Generation gap key to reaching Latinos

8 October 2014

NEW YORK: Marketers should "expect different emotional reactions to the same advertisement across generational groups of Latinos", according to a paper published in the Journal of Advertising Research.

The study drew on separate experiments involving ads from Barack Obama's two presidential campaigns, and featured panels of 284 and 100 respondents respectively.

"Findings suggest that first-generation young-adult Latinos prefer political advertisements in Spanish," wrote Sindy Chapa (Florida State University) and Enrique P. Becerra (Texas State University).

But according to "The Effect of Generational Status in Language-Tailored Political Messages: Why Advertising Needs to Adjust to Appeal to Young-Adult Latino-Americans", this attitude shifted among the various cohorts.

"Preference for Spanish advertisements diminishes with increasing generational status, with the third generation preferring advertisements in English," the three academics reported.

Similarly, they continued, "Fourth (or older) generational young-adult Latinos prefer bicultural advertisements – specifically, advertising in English with Hispanic cultural cues that may include Spanish words."

Drilling down further into the impact of television advertising on this audience, the lines of differentiation grew more nuanced still.

"Spanish-language-only television advertisements," for instance, "elicited the highest positive emotions and intentions to vote on the first-generation Americans."

By contrast, for their children – the second-generation cluster – bilingual TV commercials yielded the strongest emotions and intention to cast a ballot.

Among third-generation Americans, the same status was held by English-only spots. And such fluctuation became even more pronounced for members of the fourth generation.

"For fourth-generation American young adult Latinos, English-only television advertisements elicited the highest positive emotions," the study said.

"But Spanish-only advertisements – closely followed by bilingual advertisements – elicited the highest intentions to vote."

One key learning for brands from such observations was that treating Hispanic consumers as a homogenous mass was unlikely to deliver the best results.

"The findings highlight the heterogeneity of the young-adult Latino population, which advertisers must keep in mind when creating campaigns targeting young-adult Latinos," the authors wrote.

"These different generations perceive themselves as Americans but are comfortable and proud of being Hispanic and want advertisements that reflect this."

Data sourced from Journal of Advertising Research