Friday, February 15, 2008

Magic to Hispanic Marketing?

The more I read about cultural marketing and Hispanic marketing specifically, the more I think I’m coming to believe that this should be less a study about marketing and more a study about the various Hispanic cultures. I think this is the right approach. I mean… there is no magic, per se, to Hispanic marketing. Marketing is just marketing and it involves a process that is dependent upon understanding your market. That’s what we should be doing here - learning about the Hispanic market inclusive of the role of culture.

I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia so I have to admit that my experiences with the Hispanic population were largely limited. Also, despite the fact that I’ve traveled to about 40 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa, I have to say that I never really experienced Hispanic culture until we moved to Durango and my wife started teaching English as a Second Language in Farmington, NM. Yes, we had spent a month in Costa Rica but that experience didn’t provide the insight that my wife’s ESL class did. What was cool about her class is that she let me set them up with a blog and from this blog we got to see a unique insight into both Hispanic and Navajo perspectives. Anyhow, what attracted me to those kids is what attracted me to New Mexico Highlands University and it’s what attracted me to doing this class – a desire to know more about other cultures.

With all of that said, I did want to comment on the idea that marketing to the Hispanic population is the exclusive domain of those from that culture. That’s crazy. Just because I’m Anglo, does that mean that I know everything there is to know about the Anglo market? Of course not. Every Anglo isn’t like me. At the same time, does a Mexican know everything there is to know about a Puerto Rican? No. That Mexican doesn’t even know every intricacy of the Mexican market! Understanding a market isn’t about where you’re from, what language you speak or what color you are. It’s about listening to your target market. It’s about asking questions and listening to the responses.

Lastly, let’s run through a few concepts/terms in the book.

The first one is the idea of enculturation. Simply put, enculturation is the learning of a first culture.

How one adapts once they’ve immigrated to the US is described by terms like: “integrate” – those that preserve their first culture but also relate to the second culture, “assimilate” – those that don’t preserve their first culture and value their second culture, and “separate” – those that value their first culture and don’t value their second culture.

What’s interesting is that according to the book, Hispanics in the United States tend to either integrate or remain separate but few tend to assimilate. The common thread here is that the Hispanic population steadfastly holds onto their cultural identity.

The next concept is the idea of acculturation or biculturalism. Acculturation is simply the process of acquiring a second culture in addition to one’s first culture. Where traditional European immigrants eventually assimilated, the Hispanic population seems to embrace biculturalism. Or, in some instances, there is actually a third culture that evolves when an immigrant feels distant from home and rejects or is rejected by the new culture.

Anyhow, that's about all I feel like doing today (it is Friday!). So we'll pick up next week where we left off today.

1 comment:

Antonieta said...

You are absolutely right. As I teach an undergraduate course on Hispanic Marketing under the supervision of Dr. Korzenny himself, I always remind my students to be humble about the knowledge they have about a culture. Being born in any given culture does not give you a VIP ticket into such culture. Although the majority of my students tend to be bilingual (English/Spanish) and part of US Hispanic families, I remind them, that it is both a blessing and a curse since we tend to bring or biases as well as our expertise to the table.