What Nonprofits Must Know About Hispanics: Insights from Nestle

If you’re aware that Hispanics are a huge opportunity for nonprofits… then you’re probably aware of another fact: Hispanics are not easy to categorize! You’re not alone if you find yourself wondering how you could possibly engage a “moving target” so dynamic and so diverse.

Why Hispanics?

“Multicultural is the fastest growing demographic.”
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Not everyone realizes that connecting with Hispanics is a business strategy. Multicultural consumption represents $1.7 trillion in buying power and Hispanics are the biggest part of that segment. What’s more, Hispanics include more young people than other demographics, with years of buying power ahead. Hispanics are an extremely important audience for nonprofits to engage.

What intimidates some marketers is the variety of experiences within the Hispanic community. Many Latinos find themselves stretched between the cultures and values of their parents’ home countries and those of the US. This raises the question: should nonprofits speak to Hispanics on the terms of their home culture or of US culture? Unsurprisingly, the answer is not black and white. The most effective approach is to always invest in a deep understanding of your audience’s culture.

When engaging Hispanic values… listen!

Nestlé had a chance to invest in cultural understanding with their Nescafé brand. Due to American perceptions of instant coffee as low-quality, the brand was declining among US Hispanics. In response, Nestlé examined Americans’ and Hispanics’ general understandings of coffee. While the American vision of coffee is on-the-go fuel for the individual, Hispanics associate the beverage with connection and conversation. Based on that nuance, Nestlé partnered with Ricky Martin for their “Live with sabor” campaign. Through TV and social media, the campaign featured scenes of laughter and quality time – over coffee. While the rest of industry faced continued to face setbacks, this campaign resulted in marked growth for Nescafé.

In this instance, it made sense for marketers to engage Hispanics through a traditional lens. Since instant coffee is more popular in Latin America, Nestlé used a classic Latino understanding of coffee to address US Hispanics. The brand’s intentionality in listening to Hispanics paid off.

When engaging US values… listen!

The principle holds true even when the situation calls for a less traditional tack. Haagen-Dazs is another Nestlé brand, but it’s more iconically American. Their “Journey to extraordinary” campaign understood that and focused on the American dream. Specifically, the company framed it around Hispanics’ hard work in pursuit of the American dream. In this way, the brand was able to speak clearly to Hispanics while using values specific to the United States.

Different applications, same foundation

“We start with a deep understanding of Hispanic beliefs, behaviors, and culture.”

These stories showcase flip sides of the same idea: as a nonprofit, if you want to engage a group as complicated and fluid as US Hispanics, you must drop your assumptions and listen to what they have to say. Different brands might succeed by targeting different points on the cultural spectrum. Hispanics have a lot going on, so the most important principle is to listen, adapt, and speak to them on their terms.




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