© 2024 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Why Modern Latinas Are A Challenge To Marketers


Hispanic American are an increasingly important consumer demographic to woo. That's according to a new study from the market research firm Nielsen. The report says that most of today's Latinas are the primary decision makers when it comes to household spending.

But marketing to them is a real challenge, as NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji reports.

SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, BYLINE: Welcome to the home of the contemporary Latina consumer.


MERAJI: Hi. How are you?

Good. How are you?

WRIGHT: Good. I'm Pamela.

MERAJI: I'm Shereen, nice to meet you.

Meet Pamela Maria Wright. She has kids - Nico and Rita. She's bilingual and hopes they will be too.

WRIGHT: (Foreign language spoken)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: (Foreign language spoken)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: (Foreign language spoken)

WRIGHT: (Foreign language spoken)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: (Foreign language spoken)

WRIGHT: (Foreign language spoken)


MERAJI: She has a masters degree, is a working professional, and tech savvy.

WRIGHT: You know, we all have smartphones, I have an iPhone, I have an iMac, MacBook Pro.

MERAJI: But still, very traditional and family oriented. As if on cue, her dad makes a surprise visit.


WRIGHT: Oh, hi, this is my dad, how much more Latino can you get? Hi, daddy.


WRIGHT: How are you?

MERAJI: She consumes her media in English - and some in Spanish. She also buys groceries bi-culturally. Whole foods, for...

WRIGHT: My organic milk and my Greek yogurt and kale.

MERAJI: And the Mexican family-owned grocery chain Northgate Gonzales for...

WRIGHT: (Foreign language spoken) That you definitely can't find in an American store.

MONICA GIL: So Latinas are definitely relating to two identities. I see it as they have two sets of instruments to pick from.

MERAJI: Monica Gil is the author of Nielsen's report on the modern Latina consumer. She says if brands want to stay relevant, they need to get to know this ambi-cultural shopper.

GIL: When Latinas choose to be more Latina or more American, and under what circumstances, what influences her and her purchasing behaviors.

MERAJI: The Latina consumer is younger, a growing demographic, and they're making the financial decisions in their households. Eight-six percent of the Latinas Nielsen surveyed said they were taking the lead on money matters including big purchases like cars and homes.

So, how are marketers wooing this valuable consumer? I asked one.

VERENA SISA: Verena Sisa, Chief strategy officer for Conill Advertising.

MERAJI: Conill specializes in marketing to the Hispanic consumer and has been doing it since the late '60s. But, Sisa says it's a challenge to advertise to the modern Latina. She's on different media platforms, in two languages. She's traditional in some ways, cutting edge in others. And you still have to deal with cultural differences based on region. Is her background Mexican, Salvadoran, Puerto Rican?

SISA: She has become the most fragmented consumer out there.

MERAJI: Sisa says its important to find commonalities when marketing to this fragmented Latina consumer and motherhood is a great place to start. One of the ways she sways more Latina and less American is when it comes to raising kids. Passing down Spanish and cultural traditions becomes a priority.

SISA: And one of the core elements of culture is music.

MERAJI: Sisa says her client Pampers threw a concert last year for expectant Latinas and their kids in Miami.

THALIA: (Foreign language spoken)

MERAJI: Latin Pop star Thalia hosted the event and stressed the importance of passing down Latino culture to the next generation. And the concert was promoted on the Pampers Latino Facebook page as a part of its Mi Musica, Mi Herencia ad campaign. That's my music, my heritage.


MERAJI: An orchestra played Latin American children's songs like this one, "Los pollitos dicen Pio pio" to a crowd of babies, toddlers and pregnant moms.

Over the top? Sure, but Verena Sisa says this kind of marketing works. Slapping a mariachi band or chips and salsa in an ad, says Sisa, doesn't.


MERAJI: Shereen Marisol Meraji, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Shereen Marisol Meraji is the co-host and senior producer of NPR's Code Switch podcast. She didn't grow up listening to public radio in the back seat of her parent's car. She grew up in a Puerto Rican and Iranian home where no one spoke in hushed tones, and where the rhythms and cadences of life inspired her story pitches and storytelling style. She's an award-winning journalist and founding member of the pre-eminent podcast about race and identity in America, NPR's Code Switch. When she's not telling stories that help us better understand the people we share this planet with, she's dancing salsa, baking brownies or kicking around a soccer ball.
Journalism at this station is made possible by donors who value local reporting. Donate today to keep stories like this one coming. It is thanks to your generosity that we can keep this content free and accessible for everyone. Thanks!