Understanding the Hispanic Community

Reaching out to the Hispanic community does not necessarily mean doing so in Spanish. Beyond language, understanding Hispanic culture is indispensable to effectively and efficiently market and cater to Latinos.

The Hispanic Community: A Diverse Culture

All Hispanics carry Latin American and/or Spanish Heritage in their blood. In fact, there are many variables that make the Hispanic community quite diverse: country of origin/heritage, language preference, generation, place of residence, socio-cultural level, acculturation, assimilation, and income level.

As much as all these factors make them different, their culture is one thing that unifies them.

Here are some of the cultural characteristics you need to be aware of in order to better understand the Hispanic community:

Degree of Intimacy

Hispanics want to establish a personal connection with people. In general, Latinos will respond positively to a greeting that is less about getting the sale. It is OK not going immediately into business mode when Hispanics walk into your store… A warm greeting, a sincere complement, a kind comment about a timely and relevant subject will work wonders. It will help members of the Hispanic community feel more comfortable and possibly lead them into corresponding in a similar fashion. So you and your staff must be fully prepared to engage in conversation. A more intimate relationship will be established, compared with their experiences elsewhere. By managing to make Latinos feel welcome at your place of business, they are more likely to become repeat customers and recommend you to others.

Level of Interaction

Latinos recognize others as complete human beings. Individuals are much more than just a number. They are aware that the people they meet in your store have a life beyond work. And they would not mind learning a bit more about them. Connect with your Hispanic customers through direct eye contact, making sure they know that they are important to you. Engage in brief small talk. You’ll learn more about their wants, needs and feelings that way.  And you’ll be able to better cater to members of the Hispanic community.

Social Harmony

Hispanics don’t like to rock the boat. We actually have a need to maintain smooth and pleasant relationships. So blatant confrontation does not come naturally to us. I still feel uncomfortable when non-Hispanics clearly and openly express their disagreement on a given issue. For them, there is no emotion involved in the interaction. It’s just a difference in opinion. As a Latino, I prefer to use a more indirect approach.

Personal Contact

In social situations, Hispanics find physical contact with others quite normal. Handshakes, hugs, kisses on the cheek, pats on the back… it’s all part of daily interaction.

Respect for Authority

Hispanics tend to treat those in positions of authority with a great deal of respect. We won’t easily react to a TV ad that tells us to ask our doctor for the purple pill. The doctor knows what he is doing since he’s studied for so long to get where he’s at. So who are we to tell him what he should prescribe us? At the same time, if someone we highly respect suggests that we do or buy something, it will be much more effective.