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Hispanic Heritage Month

Jorge Martinez, Vice President

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! Although it’s now 2021, I originally wrote this blog in 2018, shortly after the end of that year’s edition of the Soccer World Cup. It seems Lionel Messi’s recent move to La Ligue’s Paris Saint Germain was timed perfectly to encourage an update for this idea.

Back in 2018, I wrote about Marketers’ tentative and often tepid attempts at connecting with the Hispanic Community:

Lionel Messi is by far the greatest soccer player of this generation. His skill, his poise, his leadership on the field and his accuracy will go in the soccer history books as being unparalleled. Ok, many will argue Cristiano Ronaldo is a better player, but we do not want to engage in endless, futile back and forth.

Let’s get back to soccer and one of its biggest stars of this day and age: if Messi is the greatest player and Argentina is such a powerhouse in the world of this sport, how come they fare so poorly (repeatedly) in the World Cup? The answer may be that superb individual talent is no match to a collective effort, where all team players compete with the same level of commitment to win the game.

You may ask, “What does  Argentina losing the World Cup have to do with celebrating Hispanic heritage?” Well, how some marketers treat Hispanic Heritage Month, in particular, has a lot more in common with this soccer story than you think,  especially those marketers who are in the business of creating a loyal customer base; and let’s face it, everyone should be!  Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated during September 15th through October 15th. 

You see, to expect that Argentina will win the World Cup simply because they have Messi is the soccer equivalent of thinking that companies and marketers can sustainably (and profitably) connect with US Hispanic consumers simply by ‘reaching out to them’ only around or during Hispanic Heritage Month. Kudos if you do invest in connecting with Hispanic consumers around this time; but as a wise marketer, you must also be prepared to go the distance through a more consistent effort to truly create a lasting relationship with Latinos (or shall I say, Latinx? More on this in our next blog).

Hispanic Research for Hispanic Heritage MonthThis thought remains relevant, yet many brands continue to make the same mistake year after year: putting up banners, tweeting about Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM), having a sale, dressing up their stores, etc., almost exclusively just ahead of, and during, HHM. If you’re not shaking your head right now, you should be. The argument is simple: Hispanics, Latinas, Latinos, Latinx don’t wear their identity as a costume. They are who they are, with their heritage and identity 24/7, 365 days a year. Always. Not “halfways,” no shortcuts, no corners cut, not just one month of the year. ALWAYS. 

I don’t suggest here that brands shouldn’t do anything for HHM; the argument I make and what you should know is that if your efforts to reach this community are exclusive to HHM, you should be rethinking your strategy very seriously, lest the reward of your efforts be ephemeral, meaningless, and inconsequential. 
If the majority -or even worse all- of your strategy for Hispanics focuses on HHM:

  • You’ll be putting all your eggs in one basket. And we all know how that goes
  • The Hispanic/Latina/Latino community will surely take notice, but they will also likely call you out on it

Our CultureBeat team is often asked by our clients and friends,

“What are the best times to invest in marketing to Hispanics?

Or

"What other occasions are there to connect with the Latino consumers?”

The most impactful and honest answer we can give is: ALWAYS! 24/7 and year-round. In today’s world, any brand that isn’t focusing on Hispanic and multicultural consumers is missing out on tremendous growth potential. We get it, and we realize that budgets can be tight. So, you are not alone if you must be uber-disciplined with your resources, which makes Hispanic Heritage Month another great occasion to engage with the Latino collective (and a very specific one for that matter); but it should not be the only time nor the only way to become meaningful to us!

Hispanic Heritage Month should be seen as a time to honor the overcoming of challenges and the accomplishments of Latinos, as well as their contributions to this great nation, their heritage and traditions that help shape who America is... Day in and day out. 

Why is Hispanic Heritage Month in September?

Why September? The largest Hispanic group in the US by nationality and heritage is that of Mexican origin, and in September, Mexicans celebrate their emancipation from Spain (starting in 1810). Similarly (although it happened many years later, 1821 to be precise) the Central American countries (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica) also celebrate their independence from Spain.  And, Chile, Cuba and Brazil also celebrate their independentist milestones in September and October. So, it makes sense to focus the remembrance of Hispanic Heritage around this time of the year, just like it makes sense to say “Happy Birthday” on someone’s birthday! However, the pride, energy, sacrifices, accomplishments and contributions of Hispanics don’t stop in September/October. They carry their identity pridefully all year-round.

Back to soccer... I had really hoped Argentina would rise as world champion in 2018… alas, my expectations were largely based (like many others’) on the prowess and talent of Lionel Messi. But it takes a team to go far in soccer, the same way it takes consistency to go far with the Hispanic consumer. Thus, celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, but also invest in connecting with Latinos throughout the year.

Side note: Argentina didn’t win the World Cup and the Argentinian nationals have had a bit of a dry spell in terms of international tournaments. Earlier this year, however, Argentina won this year’s edition of Copa America. For soccer fanatics on this side of the world, it was good to see Lio Messi’s talent rewarded, and it was well worth the wait.

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