Finding a Niche in the Hispanic Market for your Small Business
Alan L. Olsen, CPA, MBA (tax)
Greenstein Rogoff Olsen & Co. LLP
Book Summary Part 1 of 7: The Power of Business en Espanol, 7 Fundamental Keys
to Unlocking the Potential of the Spanish-Language Hispanic Market by Jose Cancela
Marketing to the Hispanic demographic could pay big dividends to the tune of nearly
$1 trillion in buying power. Additionally, the rate of growth for Latino businesses
is three times the national average. These two million businesses account for nearly
$300 billion in sales and the number of Hispanic businesses are expected to double
in number every five years. Businesses wanting to cater to this ever growing niche
would need to know the culture and buying habits.
Regarding language, Hispanics all use the same dictionary. Creating a marketing
campaign targeting U.S. Latinos only requires what the author terms “Walter Cronkite
Spanish.” There is no need to cater to each dialect just as consumer medias don’t
cater to West Coast, East Coast, or Southern English. As Hispanics from different
regions integrate into the Hispanic U.S.A the need for differentiation becomes less
crucial. Nevertheless, there are certain pitfalls for using general Spanish.
1. Literal Translation
Imagine if we were to translate the popular “Got Milk?” campaign into Spanish. The
literal translation, “Tienes Leche?,” becomes a personal question of whether a woman
is lactating. Another story comes from a now defunct Braniff Airways which wanted
to use the slogan, “Fly in Leather.” The ad was mistranslated to “Vuela Braniff.
Vuela encuero,” meaning “Fly Braniff. Fly Naked.”
2. The Name Game
Mitsubishi had a popular SUV it wanted to market in Latin America and to
U.S. Hispanics. It bore the name Pajero, a name still used in its Asian and European
markets. However, pajero carries with it strong sexual connotations among the majority
of Hispanics. Introducing the SUV in Latin America and the U.S. as Montero or “mountain
man” was a wise move.
3. Speaking in Tongues
If bad translations mean bad business, as exemplified by the last two sections,
then hiring a professional to do your translation would prevent both. Hire a professional
translator who is a native Spanish speaker, has an education in translation, has
lots of experience, and specializes in the industry of translation you seek.
4. Simple Pleasures
The principles in reaching your target market are the same whether in English
or in Spanish. The keys to a successful slogan are its ability to reach the target
market and its ability to motivate people to action. Successful slogans connect
with the psyche of its target audience.
5. In Plain Spanish
Spanish is music to the ears of the Hispanic people. Deliver your message
in the language that reaches the broadest audience within culture, context, and
The next section will discuss the spread and reach of Hispanics in the U.S. or the