Yes, Hispanics are ‘only’ 16% of the population, but if you don’t take them into account in your market research projects you will have a significant blind spot in your data. And this is true even when you’re only focused in the “General market,” and not interested in the Latino market.

[pullquote align=”left”]Critical differences between Hispanic and non-Hispanics disappear when conducting market research with “traditional” samples[/pullquote]

The Hispanic culture and behaviors are different from the culture and behavior of the general american market. And we’re not talking about the obvious differences driven by language, time in the US or family of origin. It’s about the subtle differences in behavior that are driven by culture.

A few years back I was speaking at an American Advertising Federation luncheon in Tucson. At the end of my presentation, a very elegant lady approached me.

“Very interesting presentation,” she said. “But I think you got me all wrong.”

“I’m Latina,” she continued, “and my parents were born in Mexico, but I grew up here and I don’t speak Spanish. So if you think of me as ‘Hispanic’ you’ll miss the fact that I’m mostly ‘American.’”

I asked her, “Do you have children?”

“Yes, two. 13-year old and a 9-year old.”

“I bet you don’t let them go to sleepovers.”

“Well,” she started, “I don’t really like sleepovers… I mean…” and then it hit her. She stopped, smiled and said, “Wow, ok. You got me. I am an overprotective Latina mom after all.”

It is weird how Hispanic moms tend to despise sleepovers.

It’s a deeply ingrained dislike, almost a phobia! They don’t have any issues with their children spending the night with relatives. But when it comes to friends they draw the line.

It’s not that they’re antisocial or paranoid, or that they don’t want their kids to visit others – they love play dates! But sleepovers are a whole different story.

“You never know what can happen at night,” a mom told me once.

Another example is when we celebrate birthdays. For Anglos, it’s on the actual date or any convenient day close to the actual date. For Hispanics, it’s on the actual birthday or any convenient day after the date.

The reasoning is a little strange: for Hispanics it is bad luck to celebrate before something happens. It’s arrogant: you’re assuming that the party willhappen… when in reality only God knows if you will still be around for your birthday. Celebrating before your birthday is perceived as challenging God.

Si Dios quiere, “God willing,” is a phrase commonly used as a caveat for your plans. For instance, “We’ll go to the game, God willing…” as in “We will do our best to show up… but only God knows if we’ll make it.”

Dramatic, I know. But it’s how many Latinos feel.

In those two examples, the overall percentage of those attitudes would be small – but when segmenting for Hispanics, you’d realize how high those attitudes really are.

This is just one of millions of small, yet dramatic differences between Latinos and non-Latinos. And these differences, big and small, disappear when conducting market research using traditional random samples.

Even when you’re not specifically focusing on the Hispanic market, you must design you project with an oversample of Hispanics. There must be enough Hispanics in your project for you to be able to segment and get statistically significant results.

Of course, the only true way to get the realities of the market is to create specific Hispanic market research projects tied to your brand and marketing initiatives.

This is the only way in which you won’t miss key facts. It is also how you will find hidden jewels of incremental revenue that can be uncovered by Hispanic marketing initiatives.

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