How to appeal to Hispanic mothers: Five winning strategies

Tylenol appeals to Hispanic moms.
Tylenol appeals to Hispanic moms.

Geometry Global's creative director, multicultural, says it takes more than Spanish to communicate

Be honest. It may be Mother’s Day, but if you’re a CMO or a retailer, you are probably thinking of other people’s moms a whole lot more than your own.

It isn’t surprising because with women making 80% of all purchase decisions, understanding what moms buy, where and why is critical. But if the mothers in question happen to be Hispanic, shopping behavior deviates considerably from non-Hispanics. Meanwhile, gender roles, family dynamics, language and cultural norms collectively influence the path to purchase. So how do you appeal to and influence Hispanic moms to choose your brand or store without resorting to over-simplification and cultural clichés? Consider these strategies:

Forget me — adopt we. Hispanic women do not view motherhood as just one of many roles — for them, motherhood is a calling, a purpose for living, an all-consuming duty that overrules most other aspects of their lives.

For the Hispanic mother, the needs and well-being of her family influence every buying decision and she is far more likely than non-Hispanic whites to seek and purchase products and services that will benefit her entire family rather than improve her own life.

She does not view deferring to the needs of her loved ones as a sacrifice but rather as the essence of being a good mother. She is seeking products and services that will enable her to look after her family and care for their needs not make her own life easier. Marketers then would do well to communicate product traits that help her achieve her goal while also validating her selfless dedication. Tylenol’s "Haces mucho más" or "you do so much more" TV spot does both rather brilliantly.

Ask the culture question, not the language question. Brands often go down a rabbit hole trying to decide whether to use English or Spanish in their communications, generally assuming that Spanish will help their messages resonate automatically. In reality, what is far more important is examining the cultural context in which the purchase decision is being made and letting that drive the marketing idea. The language will follow naturally from the idea.

When ConAgra wanted to increase the appeal of its frozen Banquet breakfast sandwiches with Hispanic moms, it leveraged the cultural insight that providing a wholesome, well-rounded breakfast to her family is more important to Hispanic moms than the idea of grab-and-go convenience (which generally appeals to non-Hispanic whites).

The composition of the freestanding insert was reworked by positioning the sandwich in a homey, sunny kitchen surrounded by a tall glass of orange juice, coffee and fresh fruit and the communication was changed from "Your breakfast is ready, are you?" (emphasizing convenience) to "Wake up to a new delicious breakfast" (making a serving suggestion). The creative was executed in Spanish, English and bilingual formats, depending on the vehicle.

Understand what "value" means to her. The prevalent belief among marketers is that Hispanic moms make buying decisions based almost exclusively on price. While budgets matter, that doesn’t mean she is always buying the lowest priced item or service.

Her value proposition is not based on price but rather on multiple factors: the product/service needs to get the job done well, it needs to appeal to her (color, shape, scent, and occasion) and lastly, it needs to be priced correctly — not cheap but according to the perceived functionality of the product. For example, Hispanic moms may buy steak for a delicious dinner at the beginning of the month, but buy retazo (meat scraps) by the end of her quincena (paycheck) and prepare it in a delicious guisado where the flavor and quality of the meat is less important. Both provide the protein the family needs, one is priced higher than the other but both were bought within her budget.

Don’t take her brand loyalty for granted. The Hispanic mom, like the rest of her community, avoids uncertainty and views the unknown with suspicion. She is also collectivist in her approach, relying on trusted social opinions more than experts to inform her purchase decisions.

Because of these traits, Hispanic moms are extremely loyal to brands that fulfill her value proposition. It is critical that once you win her loyalty, you continue to provide incremental value through product innovations and meaningful promotions that remind her that the brand understands her and her family’s needs. Nestle’s Mexican hot chocolate brand Abuelita is an iconic, household favorite but the brand continues to engage its customers by launching product innovations that made the chocolate tablet be more easily consumed in powder and syrup form.

Help Millennial Latina moms balance a bicultural heritage. Twenty-nine percent of the total Hispanic population in the US comprises Millennials, and although born in the U.S., 66% of them say they identify as being Hispanic. They are bilingual and act like non-Hispanic Millennials in many respects, but retain a clear Latino influence.

Cultural pride is high among this set, with 96% saying they will never stop doing things from their own culture. In other words, they are truly bicultural. For Millennial Latina moms, this poses a special challenge because the desire to conform to traditional parenting norms while adapting with mainstream American lifestyles is equally strong. Brands that can tap into this dilemma and ease it will find great success with millennial moms. Target’s new ad campaign operates in this exact cultural context with a series of TV spots that use nuanced words like arrullo and sobremesa and end with the tagline, "There will always be a part of you that simply doesn’t translate."

Monica Nadela is creative director, multicultural, of Geometry Global.

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