Well-Written Materials Can

Help You Reach Hispanics

Companies target the Hispanic market because of its considerable size and significant purchasing power.

But the marketing materials that are intended for the Hispanic frequently fail. This is typically due to the complexity of the language used in the pieces, failure to address important social and cultural attributes, and/or use of inappropriate graphics or illustrations. Lets look at what can be done in each area.

Language: Some companies may not recognize that the language used in many marketing pieces is frequently so complex that it is inappropriate for most markets. Many passages are written at high educational levels employing esoteric industry jargon.

When such language is then translated into Spanish, the resulting piece is often appropriate only for a small segment of the broad Hispanic populationnamely, the privileged Hispanic with a well-defined understanding of insurance principles.

This is unfortunate, because Hispanics in the larger segment of the market tend to have only limited understanding of insurance principles. Therefore, even if rendered correctly, such translations fall on silent ears. The insurer loses a chance to reach the broader market, and the individuals in that market lose a chance to consider and perhaps purchase the products of that insurer.

To their credit, some insurers have begun to address this deficiency. However, some of these efforts may backfire, if the companies select translators with inadequate skill.

They need to look for professionals who have the background and expertise that demonstrate they can interpret insurance subject matter into succinct, comprehensible Spanish. This is true even when the tone and syntax of original English is appropriate for the intended audience.

Cultural characteristics: Marketing pieces that target the average Hispanic must speak to important social and cultural attributes. Examples include the Hispanics perception of environmental events, significance of progeny, time orientation and collectivism.

Graphics and illustrations: Finally, the physiognomy of the subjects portrayed and the message conveyed by certain illustrations may not be suitable for the targeted market.

For example, a brochure that homogeneously depicts one ethnic group may not be appropriate for Hispanics who identify with the Mestizo. Likewise, an illustration of a padlock will not work to convey the message of “locking” in the loan interest ratebecause, in Spanish, interest rates are “frozen,” not locked.

To achieve success in marketing to Hispanic consumers, some insurers work with external resources that specialize in analyzing the impact of the marketing pieces the company uses.

If you are considering that approach, here are some questions to ask:

–Does the analysis include an appraisal of the translation by a focus group?

–Does it assess the tone and syntax of the language?

–How well do the materials embody and “speak to” the social and cultural aspects of the Hispanic community?

–Are the corresponding graphics and illustrations suitable to this market?

Jaime Carlo-Casellas, Ph.D., is president and CEO of Hispanic Market Consultation Services, a division of CC Scientific, Ltd., Rancho Mirage, Calif. His e-mail is casellas@ccscientific.com.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, August 20, 2001. Copyright 2001 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.


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