Claudia Romo Edelman on the Future of Hispanic Marketing

One of the big industry news stories to come out of Cannes Lions was the release Hispanic Sentiment Study 2023. We spoke to Claudia Romo Edelman, the founder of We Are All Human, about the survey results and what it means for the future of Hispanic marketing.

There were several significant trends revealed by the survey, including the decline in the way Latinos feel their values are reflected by big brands and an increase in the strength of Latino identity and unity. What surprised you most about the results?

I am most surprised and disheartened by the disparity between what we know to be our prosperity, progress and power — we are helping to drive American progress — and what we feel, which is that we are not valued or reflected in American culture and brand culture.

The data is troublesome. When it comes to our values reflected in American society, the drop in the past five years is a staggering—26 percentage points, from 68% to 42%. Big brands have also seen a 9% drop in terms of Latino perceptions that our values are disregarded. Traditional news and media are also points of alienation.

There seem to be two contradictory trends at play. The first is the evidence of the scale of the Latino community’s impact on the market—for example, the GDP Latino community is growing at a faster rate than China. On the other hand, brands don’t seem to be effectively winning the loyalty of Latino consumers. What do you think accounts for that disconnect?

I think the driver of discontent remains representation. If you have a company that is trying to market to the Latino community, yet there are few Latinos involved in the marketing process, and none involved at management levels, the end product is going to feel contrived and inauthentic. We won’t feel the love. In contrast, small businesses have made their presence felt in the Latino community and not surprisingly, 68% of Latinos believe small businesses reflect our values.

What advice would you give brands that see this survey as a wakeup call to rethink and reevaluate how they approach the Latino community?

This is a wakeup call, but even more there is a real opportunity to tap into purchasing power that now tops the $2 trillion mark. The first step, as I mentioned, is to hire Latinos. That will go a long way to making sure that you are representing Latinos genuinely and positively.

Look at your marketing spend for the Latino market. Too often we are still dumped into a large “people of color” bucket and that makes for impossible, imperfect targeting. For example, one of the things we learned from the Hispanic Sentiment Study is that there is a real surge of interest in speaking Spanish, a 14% growth in the past five years. So, by all means, advertise in Spanish on Hispanic channels.

We also know that Latinos prefer brands and will be loyal to brands that are involved in the community – 84% of the community, in fact, a significant majority. So, invest in the community. Build programs. Have a presence. Be part of our future. Invest in talent, campaigns and community programs that show you are with us for the long haul.

One last thing – Latinos are having a real influence on global culture – Latino food and music, for example, are more and more in the mainstream. So, there are ways to also leverage this culture to attract the general market. I think savvy marketers will have a two-prong strategy that will have an impact on both the Latino and general market. There is great opportunity all around.