The 2020 Presidential election proved that having a better understanding of the Hispanic audience is key to success. That stands true in politics and in business.
Our general population is evolving into a multicultural society and Hispanics are now a major player. According to early exit polls, almost 60% of eligible Latinos voted this year—more than 19 million voters—compared with about 50% in prior elections.
It is important to highlight that even though President-Elect Joe Biden had some setbacks in some states, he ended up winning two-thirds of the Latino votes, according to exit polls. It was a similar path to Hillary Clinton’s campaign when she ran for President in 2016. This year, President Donald Trump grew his share slightly, winning 32% of the Latino vote compared to 28% in 2016.
Politicians need to understand that they can’t take the Latino votes for granted. The traditional approach is no longer sustainable. Translating a campaign into Spanish without adjustments on the messaging or appealing to what is important to this demographic will keep you from winning this influential audience.
There are more than 20 different nationalities that speak Spanish. Even though we share one language—Spanish—there are still some cultural differences and experiences within the Hispanic community that are important to know. The best way to assure a successful outcome is: Stay away from the one blanket approach when trying to connect with them.
Whether it’s politics or business, you must understand how important culture is to the success of any campaign today. That’s why during this 2020 Presidential election, the Democratic party lost the Hispanic votes in Miami because they didn’t deliver the correct message in a DMA that is absolutely different compared to any other Hispanic DMA in the nation. Miami is a melting pot where Cubans and Venezuelans are strong communities within Latin Americans. These two strong demographics have been running away from socialism and dictatorships for decades. So, the Trump administration took advantage of those circumstances and started promoting fear by comparing Joe Biden to Chavez and Fidel Castro. This helped the Republican party capture the Hispanic votes in Miami and ultimately win the state of Florida. Texas was another state where Biden didn’t get enough support from Hispanics.
What keeps Hispanics together as a strong group is that they share one language: Spanish. However, there is a wide diversity of Latinos. Taking the time to understand this influential audience, their lifestyles, backgrounds, and touchpoints will be crucial to win their support. Their life experiences vary greatly—depending on whether they’re urban or rural, what state they live in, their social class, and how many generations they’ve been in the U.S. For example, Dominicans in New York will have a different set of concerns from Cubans in Miami, or Mexican Americans in Arizona.
The point I am trying to make here is that in politics and in business, you must see the markets as people, not colors, and leave any personal bias on the side. Just the fact that you have been doing business or running your political campaigns the same way for decades doesn’t mean it’s the right way of doing it anymore.
Society is evolving. Demographics are changing. Internal migration from one state to another, social and political views, including population growth of certain demographics, has changed. This played an important role when some of the states changed from Republican to Democrat and vice versa. Businesses should also keep this in mind.
Here is some food for thought:
Move away from stereotypes: Van Jones said live on CNN: “We have to stop acting like all Latinos and Latinas are the same people.” There is a tendency in this country to portray Hispanics as just Spanish speaking Mexican immigrants. Hispanics are more than that. We are living in a society that has evolved. The USA has been going through a generational Hispanic domestic growth that has a different appetite compared to the first-generation Hispanics. For example: Not all Hispanics are loud, listen to Mariachi music, and eat spicy food. As matter of fact, some of us prefer to do business in English and speak Spanish at home. Just because you are promoting “carnitas” on your restaurant menu, doesn’t mean you have to put a Hispanic looking actor who speaks with an accent in your ad campaign. This way of thinking will be detrimental to your advertising or political campaigns. You are basically segregating rather than being inclusive because of your personal bias and stereotypes.
Take time to know your audience: One of the things that distinguishes the American society is that we live in a reactive state instead of a proactive one. We are constantly looking for immediate gratification without giving enough time for things to take their natural course. With Hispanics, you need to earn their respect first in order to gain their confidence and eventually trust in you or your brand. One of the things that Trump executed properly was that he exploited the economic frustration of many Latinos, young and old in Texas. He positioned himself as the solution to the Hispanic voters by promoting job increases and growth in the economy. This resonated very well in South Texas, a heavily Mexican American community, that was traditionally a Democratic area of the state with high rates of poverty, poor educational outcomes, and health disparities. He also started early with his campaign, supported by a strong grass roots representation in the area.
Understand the power: The Hispanic community and registered voters will continue to grow in the USA. With more than 60 million Hispanics living legally in this country, it is estimated that their purchasing power will increase from $1.7 trillion in 2020 to $1.9 trillion dollars by 2023. Also, according to Nielsen, the Hispanic population grew 70% between 2000–2018 compared with 9% of general market. This means that the U.S. Hispanic community has become one of the top 10 economies in the world. That’s a GDP larger than Mexico, Spain, and Australia. The United States has now become the second largest country in the world of Spanish speaking populations.
Taking all the statistics and polling results into consideration, it is clear that there is a huge business opportunity within this market. And, they will become a key component for the next 2024 Presidential election campaign.
It’s time to vote out your old marketing tactics. Start capturing this rapidly-growing, highly-influential audience now by gaining their trust and loyalty. Don’t just translate. If you are a politician who is planning to run a campaign, start now by understanding how to better represent their cultural preferences on issues such as education, economy, immigration, and healthcare. If you are a business owner, you also need to understand how important culture is in your marketing campaigns. Our society is evolving right before our eyes. But many people simply aren’t paying attention. If you want a better outcome, you need to evolve your tactics and take a good look at where the power is shifting. Whoever does it right, wins.