Copywriting for Hispanic Consumers: 6 Tips for Getting It Right

Estimated reading time: 17 minute(s)

Marketing to Hispanics? Don’t pick up that pen until you understand your audience.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, MarketSmiths is authoring a four-part series on Hispanics in the marketplace. The series covers everything from consumer trends and marketing myths, to how to craft healthcare campaigns that are tailored to Hispanic healthcare needs. Below is Part 3 in the series.

Hispanic consumers are social, savvy, and sought after. Research shows that among minorities, they are the youngest, most digitally dialed in, and most likely to make product recommendations to friends and family. Research also shows that they have enormous buying power—as much as $1.7 trillion, according to Statista.com, and growing.

All this has made Latinos—from Millennials to abuelas—a prize demographic, with marketing and advertising professionals clamoring for their attention. So how can you break through the noise and ensure that your content resonates with Hispanics? The answer is simple: speak to Latino values, traditions, and culture. However, that’s easier said than done.

To get you started, here are 6 tips for writing copy for Hispanic consumers.

1. Write “In Culture”

A 2015 ThinkGoogle and Ipsos MediaCT study found that 70% of survey respondents said it’s important for a website’s content to be culturally relevant when they’re gathering information about a purchase. Says Emily McLintock, creative director at TED and former head of marketing at Latina Media Ventures, “You can’t speak to the Latino audience the same way you speak to the general market.”

She points out, however, that “in culture” doesn’t mean “in language,” adding that it’s vital to “understand the importance that [Latino] culture and heritage plays into purchasing decisions.”

2. Acknowledge Distinctions Among Hispanics

Just because the U.S. Census categorizes Hispanics as a single group doesn’t mean your copy can appeal to every Hispanic reader. As with all people, there are myriad differences within the Latino community, and you won’t be able to write the same copy for them all. Two of the biggest distinctions are generationthe differences between immigrants and second- and third-generation Latinosand national origin. A Peruvian’s background will likely be quite different from that of a Puerto Rican.

Latina lifestyle blogger and TV host, Evette Rios puts it this way: “Latinos live in two distinct worlds. The “old world” that values family, faith, humility, hard work, resourcefulness and honor, and their “general market world” that values self, wealth, ego, consumerism and individuality. It pulls us in completely different directions.” Identify who you are targeting within the Hispanic audience, and then write copy that acknowledges their unique experiences.

3. Know Your Celebraciones (and Time Your Content To Them)

This tip is less “How to write for Hispanic readers” and more what and when to write it. Translation: Identify the events, celebrations, and traditions that matter to Latinos—because they’re not always the same as those in the general market—and then author and promote content around it.

As a former food editor for an English-language magazine aimed at acculturated Latinas, I saw massive spikes in website traffic, email open rates, and social engagement around celebrations like Epiphany, Parrandas, and Mexican Independence Day. (Important to note, however, that two out of three of these are specific to subgroups within the Latino community. See above note on acknowledging distinctions.)

4. Do Your Research

This is an obvious one, right? Actually, no. I’m surprised daily by how little Latino flavor much of the marketing copywriting aimed at Latinos actually has. Even more shocking is the kind that’s meant to engage Latinos but instead misspells Spanish words, names, and nations—Columbia? Really?—or promotes offensive stereotypes.

To avoid this, get to know your intended audience. Find out who they are, where they spend their time, which platforms they like, and who they’re reading, watching, listening to, and following.

Says Rios, “The content that we are creating through social media and through YouTube should be constantly mined to understand what we are into and what messages resonate with us. The tone and the content of what we put out there is what we would like to receive from any advertising hoping to capture our attention.”

Research supports her assertion. The previously mentioned ThinkGoogle and Ipsos MediaCT study also found that when ads include aspects of Hispanic culture, 88% of the Hispanic audience pays attention. Additionally, 41% say they feel more favorable about a brand that aims to be culturally relevant.

5. Pepper Your Copy with Spanish Slang and Idioms

One of the simplest ways to craft copy that Latinos will identify with is to pepper said copy with Spanish slang. Notes McLintock, “Second- and third-generations typically speak to their families in Spanish, but are English-dominant in their media consumption.” Translation: Spanish is familiar, comfortable, and nostalgicall words you want ascribed to your copywriting.

Butand this is a big butget it right. Nothing turns Hispanic consumers off to your brand faster than misusing slang or applying idioms that don’t fit. Why? Because it tells your reader two not-great things: 1) the brand or product advertised doesn’t employ Latinos (if it did, this error wouldn’t exist); and 2) not only didn’t you ask around to see if the Spanish words were spelled right, you couldn’t even be bothered to pass them through Google Translate to see if they make sense in the context you’re using them.

“[When] marketers speak to us in Spanish full of straight-off-the-boat idiomatic expressions and stereotypical imagery,” says Rios, “it really rings hollow for our community.”

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Political

Latinos over-index for environmental, social, and political issues. (Not surprising given that Latinos are at the center of hot button issues like immigration and Puerto Rican hurricane relief.) Depending on the type of content you’re creating and the Hispanic subgroup you aim to reach, infusing your copy with support for particular causes and issues could be beneficial.

For example, replacing the gender-distinguishing Latino and Latina with the all-inclusive Latinx is becoming increasingly prolific among younger Latinos. For these consumers, using Latinx instead of Latino says “I hear you, I see you, I support you,” and in marketing, eso es todo.

To learn more about writing branded content that connects with Hispanic consumers, contact the wordsmiths at MarketSmiths today.

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Amanda Cargill

Amanda Cargill is a Brooklyn-based writer, video producer, and marketing communications strategist specializing in food, travel, culture and lifestyle content in domestic, multicultural, and international markets.

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