By Cristina Verdeja Zaldívar, Director
It was nearly eight weeks ago when Golin announced we would begin working from home and it’s hard to believe how far my reality has shifted since then. It was a gradual process. At first, I continued visiting client offices, I set up a home office that best worked around my sons’ schedules and I pulled my oldest from school. Then it hit stronger; I stopped seeing friends and engaging in social activities. I could no longer see family and neighbors had to stay a wave away. Inevitably, my life inside the walls of my home became my entire world – my sanctuary, school, gym, office and so much more.
My story is not much different from that of others, except that I’m Hispanic and deep cultural ties drive my actions and that of my community. Understanding the nuances that motivate Hispanics will help build the future for companies.
As the COVID-19 crisis hit the US, the news reported what was happening around us; hospitals communicated their plans to treat those infected, essential businesses created new customer protocols and press conferences with government officials became commonplace. What stood out to me most beyond the actual changes was that much of this communication was done in English. For my grandmother, that meant she had to rely on what my family shared with her or what she saw on the news from broadcasters that translated press conferences live from a language that was foreign to her. For my sons’ nanny, that meant asking my husband and me questions, leading us to providing her with resources and helping her navigate what wasn’t available in Spanish.
There are nearly 60 million Hispanics in the US, 41 million of us speak Spanish at home and 9 million speak little to no English at all.[i],[ii] We are a profoundly diverse group tracing our roots to 15 different countries yet bound by culture and tradition. To reach us is to reach 18% of the US population.
As we look toward what’s next, integrating Hispanics to the initial conversation is vital. In order to prioritize this, we need to look back and learn from our weeks in quarantine.
Hispanics have been largely underserved during the COVID-19 crisis. From disproportionate medical and financial impact to limited access to Spanish-language information, it’s been a challenge to reach this community. Thankfully, some organizations have gotten it right.
- The Los Angeles American Red Cross has actively distributed information to Spanish-first Hispanics on Twitter
- Univision launched a program titled ‘Diario del coronavirus’ to deliver important COVID-19 information to their audience
- NGL Collective and Hispanicize launched #UnidosTogether to provide in-culture content to followers, including Spanish-language educational resources for families, like mine, that are doing at-home learning with bilingual or Spanish-dominant kids
- Nonprofit advocacy organization UnidosUS developed resources for download by the Hispanic community
As we move past the peak, we must consider cultural nuance, passion points and demographic differences. This will carve the path of opportunity and success for companies.
- The Situation: Turbulence in government, economy and healthcare is an unfortunate similarity many Latin American countries face or have faced. It’s part of the reason Hispanics come to the US, often risking everything. For that same reason, Hispanics may be slower to adapt to the ‘new normal’. As Hispanics find opportunity and success, they become risk-averse. These uncertain times have drudged up old feelings of worry among the community, with a strong desire to preserve and persevere. Though they know they can once again find opportunity and success through grit and measured adaptation during uncertain times, acting on that is hard and unsettling.
- What that means for brands: Help the Hispanic community ease into the new normal by continuing offerings that became commonplace at the height of the pandemic while addressing concerns on health and safety. A level of ‘education’ on what you’re doing differently will produce a positive impact.
Communicate to All
- The Situation: Many diverse audiences were forgotten at the height of the pandemic because things were changing quickly. Targeting segmented audiences is an extra step that requires more resources, budget and time. This is an understandable obstacle, but not excusable to completely overlook.
- What that means for brands: Your customer base is likely as diverse as the makeup of this country. Identify who your customers are culturally and what nuances you should understand to better consider them moving forward. Whether it’s through a give-back program, a call for increased sales or campaign, make them a part of the journey.
- The Situation: The Hispanic family structure is an extended multigenerational model.
- What that means for brands: Understand that you’re speaking to more than one group in a family when addressing Hispanics.
- The Situation: Hispanics are tech savvy and social. Smartphones are the most important device to us. In my case, that means that I regularly communicate and share content with 75 of my family members (cousins, aunts and great-aunts, uncles and great-uncles) on just one family WhatsApp group chat. I count them all as immediate family. Pre-pandemic, I gathered with more than 75 people for holidays and had regular weekday dinners with 10+ people.
- What that means for brands: Utilize Hispanic media consumption habits to elevate brand awareness and conversation through easily digestible and shareable content via text, memes or videos.
We are living history in a way no living generation can compare to. As such, we have a real opportunity to drive brand growth that has a positive economic impact. We just need to be inclusive to get there.
*If you have questions or are seeking counsel, email Cristina at email@example.com.
[ii] Data.census.gov, data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=LANGUAGE SPOKEN AT HOME BY ABILITY TO SPEAK ENGLISH FOR THE POPULATION 5 YEARS AND OVER (HISPANIC OR LATINO)&hidePreview=false&tid=ACSDT1Y2018.B16006&t=Language Spoken at Home:Hispanic or Latino&vintage=2018.