Debunking the Myth of Hispanic Marketing Without Spanish

As younger generations of U.S. Hispanics are becoming more English-dominant, should you consider abandoning Spanish in your marketing?

In a recent article on Forbes titled “Is Marketing In Spanish Still Relevant To Hispanics?”, author Isaac Mizrahi, reported on a marketing myth that has been making the rounds recently.

The Myth

Because the U.S. Hispanic population has been shifting to more U.S.-born (versus immigration-based), younger generations of Hispanics have become more assimilated. And statistics have shown more U.S. Hispanics are speaking English.

As a result, brands no longer need to create Spanish-language or culturally driven campaigns to connect with them. With this approach, Hispanic and non-Hispanic members of Generation Z could be effectively grouped together with the same marketing messaging and delivery.

The Reality

Mizrahi notes the conclusion above as a flawed way of thinking (or as he puts it, “a fake trend”). He provides the following evidence to debunk this myth.

The number of U.S. Spanish speakers keeps growing

Mizrahi points to U.S. Census data that tells us:

  • Since 1980 the number of Spanish speakers in the U.S. has been continuously growing
  • 37 million Spanish speakers in the U.S. in 2015 (up from 10 million in 1980, and 25 million in 2000)
  • 41 million Spanish speakers expected to be the number in the next 3 years

U.S. Hispanics continue to value the Spanish language

He also points to these results from a Facebook study conducted by Latinum Network that surveyed 500 Hispanics from different language usage backgrounds (English, Spanish, and bilingual):

  • 80% of U.S. Hispanics don’t feel they need to stop speaking Spanish to be part of American culture
  • 86% of respondents believe the Spanish language helps them remain connected to their culture
  • 62% of bilingual Hispanics used Spanish at least half of the time when reading online, 66% writing online, and 69% watching videos online
  • 79% of Spanish-dominant, 82% of bilingual, and 60% of English-dominant Hispanics think brands should reach out to consumers in both English and Spanish

Speaking to Language AND Culture to Forge Stronger Connections

While shifts in the U.S. Hispanic population are happening, it doesn’t necessarily mean the importance of the Spanish amongst Hispanic consumers is diminishing. In fact, it may mean the opposite—that Spanish is taking on greater importance and meaning, and that the language is becoming a more common and pervasive part of American culture.

Of course, Mizrahi also notes in the article that the use of Spanish in marketing has to be organic and authentic to be effective. Simple translations of English messages into Spanish don’t tend to deliver results. And, first and foremost, the content has to be culturally relevant to make an impact. As Mizrahi concludes:

“While most experts on Hispanic marketing agree that the Spanish language alone is not enough to create an effective campaign, we know now that abandoning Spanish to focus only on cultural nuances may not be enough. You need both.”