Hiring Hispanic “Switch Hitters” is Key to Business Growth in the Hispanic Market

Why should your company be concerned with the Hispanic market? The short answer is because 15 percent of the total U.S. population is currently of Hispanic descent. By the year 2050, one in four people living in the United States will be a Latino.

Other ethnic/racial groups are also rapidly expanding. All in all, the intertwining of these growing minority groups with the traditionally defined mainstream is defining a new “general market” that is quite different from the one your parents (or even you, depending on your generation) experienced not so long ago.

Your business has to be in tune with this new reality to survive and thrive in the future. The Hispanic market is a vital part of that future because it is the largest and fastest growing minority in America. Period.

These days there’s a lot of talk about marketing to Latinos, and everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon or is at least curious about doing so. A word of advice: any money put into Hispanic advertising and marketing without being fully prepared to serve these consumers will most certainly be a waste. Let me share with you one recent anecdote that illustrates my point.

I was visiting a potential retail client with several locations in two key Latino markets in the Midwest. They had been following the highly publicized demographic changes in their neck of the woods, but the tipping point for them was the news that an under-performing radio station had changed to a Spanish-language format and doubled its ratings in the blink of an eye. This prompted them to explore marketing to the growing Hispanic community.

When I entered their first store, I was sure that all the staff members had to be related. Everyone (and I mean everyone) was tall, blonde, light skinned and blue-eyed. Let’s ignore the fact that there were no bilingual sales materials whatsoever and the only Spanish phrase one single employee could fluently pronounce was, “Dos cervezas por favor” — the only hint of multiculturalism in the entire place was an image of a smiling Asian couple adorning one of the walls. When I inquired about it, they said it was a stock image they had bought a while back. It was a similar story at the other company locations.

After a long conversation with the company’s CEO, I recommended that prior to making any effort to advertise to the Hispanic community, the first step he should take was to diversify his staff. By incorporating different racial/ethnic/cultural backgrounds, his company would better reflect the consumers they were trying to attract.

You see, the employee-customer relationship is crucial. It largely determines the customer’s level of satisfaction, whether they make a purchase or not, and if they will return and recommend your company to others. This is especially true of Hispanic consumers, who are highly relationship-oriented and loyal to companies that understand their needs. Latino consumers are also more likely to be influenced by the opinions of friends and family when it comes to purchasing decisions.

The best way to attract and retain Hispanic consumers is by recruiting workers who not only have the aptitude for a given position but can also relate to Latino customers through a common cultural background and language. You should be looking for employees who understand the Hispanic frame of mind, belief system, idiosyncrasies, prejudices, etiquette, and culture.

What you need are “cultural switch hitters”, people who can go back and forth in the blink of an eye from being very Hispanic to being very “Anglo” in their interaction with your company’s clients.

Remember, 15 percent of the entire population in the United States today is made up of Hispanics. This is a significant market segment. Ask yourself: Do you have employees in your ranks who can connect with Hispanics? Do you have someone at the management level who is at ease with your Latino frontline employees?

Your business must adapt to the changes that not only have taken place but also are currently and will be taking place in the United States. By embracing this new market reality you will guarantee your company’s continual growth. Your clients will appreciate it, and your bottom line will most certainly benefit.

Juan Tornoe

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