September 15th marks the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month. During this month-long celebration, the contributions and culture of Hispanic and Latino Americans are thrust into the national spotlight and inspire a steady flow of well-intended marketing campaigns. U.S. Hispanics, however, are often treated as a homogenous group by media, leading to poorly executed campaigns that miss the mark and squander opportunities for brands.

Far from fitting the one-size-fits-all formula, the 60 million Americans of Latino/Hispanic origin represent over 20 Latin American countries. Each with their unique heritage and cultural backgrounds. Few marketers are even aware “Hispanic” is not a race – it is an ethnicity.

To effectively target these populations, market research firms must divorce themselves from the idea that U.S. Hispanics are a monolithic group and instead embrace the full scope of their multiculturalism.

Understanding segmentation within the U.S. Hispanic population is essential to doing this and will help brands and market research firms glean the insights needed to cater to this multifaceted consumer base. That enlightenment starts with a conversation around acculturation and language.

Acculturated, Unacculturated, and Bilingual Measurements Limited

Market research firms must understand how to define and measure U.S. Hispanic acculturation. Currently, much of the market research industry measure acculturation based on the ratio of Spanish to English language used within the home. For example, “acculturated,” “unacculturated,” and “bilingual.” But acculturation isn’t solely defined by language. Factors like socioeconomic background, education level, geographic location, history, and political affiliations should also be taken into consideration.

While there is no universal algorithm for measuring acculturation, brands should look to market research firms with a reputation for having a deep, thorough understanding of U.S. Hispanic populations for the most accurate data.

Accurate Representation of U.S. Hispanics in Media Lacking

Hispanics now account for nearly 18% of the U.S. population, yet still are woefully underrepresented in television and media. Frequently typecast into immigrant roles, Hispanics are often portrayed as a singular minority with little to no differentiation between groups. This not only hurts the Hispanic consumer but keeps brands from providing better products and services to these communities, which could encourage brand buy-in and customer loyalty.

To fully understand Hispanic buyers, brands must do their due diligence. For example, media consumption is not the same across generations in Hispanic households, as second and third-generation Hispanics don’t watch Spanish speaking channels like Telemundo and Univision like their older counterparts.

Key Takeaways:

To gain a more comprehensive understanding of Hispanic consumers, brands, and market research firms must embrace segmentation. Hispanics can’t be typecast into one specific persona, but instead, possess a wide range of buying behaviors and characteristics based on their unique cultural background and heritage.

With proper acculturation measurements and more accurate representation in the media, brands can form a more symbiotic relationship with their Hispanic customers and tap into this powerful demographic’s $1.7 trillion worth of buying power.