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Advertisers reluctant to address US Latinos

News, 17 May 2017
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NEW YORK: Advertisers are increasingly reluctant to market to Latino consumers for fear it will upset some in the United States' "new political environment," an industry figure says.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Linda Lane Gonzalez, chair of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, said the change was most apparent among smaller companies whose marketing efforts toward Hispanic consumers were in the early stages.

In her business alone, Miami-based agency Viva Partnership, four unnamed companies, including a financial service provider, two retailers, and a manufacturer – based, ironically, in Mexico– have retracted plans to launch Hispanic marketing campaigns since the result of November's general election.

The companies, Gonzalez alleges, are concerned about "whether now is the time to focus on minority markets because of – and this is how it was described – ‘the new political environment," she told the paper.

Larger companies have maintained spending on the US' 52 million Hispanic consumers, and she suggests those who pull out "are going to suffer the consequences." Hispanic consumers, she notes, are very loyal, warning that "if you aren't loyal to them they won't be loyal to you."

However, Gonzalez says that colleagues have experienced the same phenomenon: "I talk to a lot of mid-sized agencies and they have experienced the same thing. We are all talking about three to four clients that we have lost in this new political environment – which I describe as open racism."

In the years 2000 to 2014, Pew research found that Hispanics accounted for more than half (54%) of total U.S. population growth. In a 2016 study of Hispanic consumers, PWC argued that the demographic was "essential" for companies to engage, not least because of a "spending power that continues to multiply."

Since Donald Trump's victory in November, Gonzalez says, some clients were concerned that Trump-supporting customers and employees would be upset by bilingual collateral or Spanish-language options in call-centres.

This feeling, she observes, is especially prevalent in areas of the country with low levels of Hispanic immigration, such as the southeast and the Midwest.

"I hope this will be a blip on the screen. It might take a year to see how this pans out and for bold companies to do what's right."

Data sourced from the Financial Times, Pew Research Center, PWC; additional content by WARC staff.

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