Hispanic Hearts Beat in Spanish, Minds Tick in English

If you've been keeping an eye on the news lately you've seen Univision posted some pretty big numbers. "Univision's average of 1.81 million viewers aged 18-to-49 so far in July tops Fox, NBC and CBS, who are all clustered just under 1.5 million, the Nielsen company said on Tuesday."

Granted, there are far fewer options in Spanish TV than there are in English, so Univision's numbers get a big boost from lesser fragmentation...but still, those are some pretty big numbers, especially in that young demo. If you're a brand looking for customers, Univision's audience is tough to ignore.

But what's even more interesting is that even as Univision posts big numbers, Hispanics seem to be turning more and more to English language news sources. As you can see from the chart on the right, the delta has been growing since 2006. Today, 82% of Hispanics get their news in English, while 68% get it in Spanish (the overlap is due to a significant portion getting news in both languages).

You might think this contradictory, but it's actually pretty telling. Hispanics seem to be tapping into Spanish language media for right-brain entertainment--Telenovelas are still a big draw--while they tap into English language sources for left-brain stuff: news.

I moderated a marketing panel at this year's NGLConsortium's conference in LA, and a client I met there said it best: US Hispanics feel in Spanish and think in English. And these recent numbers seem to support that idea.

Given the realities of being a Hispanic in the US, it makes sense. Your emotional life (family, culture, etc) is rooted in Spanish, but your rational life (banking, registering your car, working) is rooted primarily in English. Likewise, American culture prides itself on its hardworking, no-nonsense Puritan roots, while Latin countries are the epitome of the romance culture.

For marketers, the implications are significant. Which side of the Hispanic experience are you tapping into? The American, more rational side? Or the Hispanic emotional one? The trend above would suggest that if you're advertising in Spanish, you're probably better served if you pay special attention to the emotional side.

Taking it even further, this certainly has implications when you look at your Hispanic Marketing efforts holistically. The emotional appeal could resonate more in Spanish, while the logical, rational stuff may make more sense in English. e.g.- Your TV ad taps into the emotion (in Spanish), while the website you direct them to has the rational reasons (in English).

Clearly there's more to it than what I just described. Nothing is as cut and dry as that...but it seems something that's at least worth looking into with the journey your consumer goes through when engaging in your category.

(This Insight Article appears on Ken's blog www.crossculturalism.com)