Do you know the difference between eating tamales and pasteles? If you know Mexican food, you might say that tamales are a traditional dish made of masa filled with meat, veggies or cheese, and pasteles are cakes. However, if you go to Puerto Rico, pasteles are similar to tamales, but they are made of green bananas (and other ingredients) stuffed with pork, olives and sweet peppers. These and other subtleties in Hispanic culture and the Spanish language are one of the many things that distinguish the Hispanic markets in the U.S.

As a health care company or provider, are you creating a marketing strategy that will capture the Hispanic market? Right now, there are more than 10 million Hispanics who are eligible to have health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (PPACA). And, according to a new report from PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI) titled “Hispanics: A growing force in the New Health Economy,” this represents enormous opportunities and challenges for the traditional and non-traditional health care organizations.

“Hispanics have tremendous consumer purchasing power, but our research shows that they have also been more likely than other consumers to delay health care, and don’t have great trust in the U.S. health system,” said Frank Lemmon, principal, PwC U.S. health industries. In fact, according to a 2013 report published by Nielsen, the 52 million Hispanics who make up part of the U.S. population have an impressive buying power of $1.2 trillion, with Hispanic women making most of the spending and budgeting decisions in the household.

To better understand the Hispanic consumer attitudes and behaviors, HRI and PwC set out to research this market’s range of cultural and consumer preference factors. “Respecting the nuances of this diverse market will be critical for companies looking to build trust and market share among the Hispanic population,” said Randy Delgado, director of PwC U.S. health industries.

The report revealed six key consumer insights that health care companies need to consider regarding the Hispanic market.

Healthcare costs are very important to Hispanics.

1. Emphasize cost over quality

On average, 46 percent of Hispanics said that cost is most important when it comes to health care, compared to 35 percent of non-Hispanics. Meanwhile, 53 percent of non-Hispanics consider quality most important vs. 42 percent of Hispanics.

 

Clinics vs Doctors

2. Clinics and other caregivers could carve their own market share

Hispanics are less likely than other consumers to use a doctor as a primary caregiver when facing a non-emergency condition (66 percent vs. 76 percent), and they are more open to using community health clinics in their neighborhoods or non-traditional settings like retail clinics, and alternative caregivers such as pharmacists.

Hispanics are tech savvy.

3. Mobile apps, Internet & social media are your allies

More Hispanics than non-Hispanics use social media, mobile apps and Internet searches to find information about doctors and insurance companies, and Hispanics are more likely to be influenced by the information when making decisions about care and insurance plans.

Hispanics are hesitant about sharing personal info.

4. Hispanics are hesitant about sharing personal info; earn their trust

33 percent of Hispanics said that they are less likely to share personal information than other consumers (26 percent), regardless if they receive benefits or incentives for doing so.

Hispanics have extended families.

5. Sell with multiple generations in mind

Hispanics are more likely than other consumers to live in multi-generational households and may be helping manage others’ health conditions – quite possibly individuals who lack familiarity with the U.S. health system.

Hispanics travel to receive medical services.

6. Know that medical travel is really popular

Regardless of income, education and insurance status, some Hispanics would rather cross borders to seek care, and travel to their birth countries to buy lower-cost medications for the entire family. Present your client with alternatives and let them know that they should have a health care professional close to their home in case of emergencies.

How to market to Hispanics.

How to market to the Hispanic segment:

The HRI suggests that health care companies should consider embedding the following four key elements in their strategies:

  • Cost + mobile savviness = looking elsewhere for health care: Here is where non-traditional health businesses, or new entrants, might have an advantage. Hispanics are cost conscious, mobile savvy, and do not necessarily seek health care within the traditional $2.8 trillion U.S. health care system.
  • It’s all about trust: Health care companies looking to reach the Hispanic market will have to work harder to earn their trust. For example, the companies could form partnerships with trusted community-based organizations to extend their future success.
  • Focus on online and mobile platforms: The Hispanic community socializes, communicates, researches and purchases online. Therefore, consider tapping into existing social and mobile platforms that are popular with Hispanics.
  • Respect the traditional and generational nuances of this market. Hispanics are not a uniform group, hence why businesses should develop strategies for different ethnicities and generations, and address ingrained habits and cultural preferences. 

So, what do you want to have for dinner: pasteles or tamales?

Click here to download the full report from HRI and PwC: “Hispanics: A growing force in the New Health Economy”.