There's a reason the new Gerber baby is Latina, Sofia Vergara is now peddling Suave and Covergirl, and J.Lo's seductive Glow is the highest grossing celebrity-endorsed perfume of all time.
Latinos love to buy. Well, some things. They tend to over-index as consumers of cosmetics, shampoo, perfume and baby products like food and diapers. In fact, a recent study by Nielsen states that if Latinos living in the U.S. were their own country, their buying power would be one of the top twenty economies in the world.
Here's a look at the top ten that spent money on Spanish-language advertising for TV, radio, and print media last year:
1. Procter & Gamble -- $225.6 million
Talk about advertising dollars paying off. Instead of using the actual Spanish word for diaper "pañal," most Latino parents use the word "Pamper", which is a Procter & Gamble brand. Given that one in four children under the age of five is Hispanic, who can blame P&G for treating them like a target audience.
2. Bancorp Inc -- $193 million
Whatever Latinos don't spend needs to be saved somewhere, right? Bancorp owns U.S. Bank which has hundreds of locations across the Southwest and West Coast, regions with high Latino populations.
3. Dish Network -- $161 million
Hispanics on average watch less TV than white Americans, according to Nielsen's report. However, the Dish Network has captured an important demographic of Latino viewers by offering a range of channels not offered by other cable providers, including programming from all over Latin America.
4. McDonald's -- $132 million
McDonald's prides itself on its Spanish-language ad campaigns, which translate their "I'm Lovin' It" slogan to "Me Encanta." Some of the dishes off the 1990's "Fiesta Menu" failed with Hispanics, but actually did very well with non-Hispanics. "The intended consumer said, 'We sure appreciate what you're trying to do, nice try.'" Neil Golden, McDonald's U.S. chief marketing officer told BusinessWeek. "But [the Fiesta menu] overperformed in the general market." Still, Micky D's told Sales and Marketing Management Magazine that they see higher brand loyalty among their Hispanic consumers.
5 & 6. AT&T and Verizon -- $131 million and $126 million respectively
Hispanics over-index on cell phone and smartphone ownership. By how much you ask? Well "approximately 60 percent of Latino households own at least one video- and Internet-enabled cell phone, compared to 43 percent of the general market," according to the Nielsen report from June.
7. Toyota -- $101 million
The Japanese car company scored big last year with their "Somos Muchos" or "We Are Many" campaign, which emphasized the diversity of the Hispanic community. The company gave away free car decals throughout Latin America and the United States which had slogans that appealed to ethnic pride. And it worked.
"No one would use an 'I love Toyota' sticker, but if you give them something that says Argentina or Mexico, they'll put it on their car," Pablo Buffagni, Conill's senior VP-chief creative officer, told Adage. So the company made stickers with the names of Latin American countries and major cities, and gave them out for free.
The sticker popular in Mexico read, ""Somos muchos mexicanos. Somos muchos Toyotas," or "We are many Mexicans. We are many Toyota owners. While Hispanics are less likely to own cars than the average American, the market is quickly growing and a 2002 study by a CNW Marketing Research, Inc. indicated that Hispanics were much more likely to be loyal to car brands and to react to advertisements in their native language than non-Hispanic consumers.
According to Adage, Toyota's internal measurements showed that favorability increased by 13 percentage with the Hispanic market four months after they launched their "Somos Muchos" campaign. And the percentage of Latinos who said they were considering buying a Toyota 8 percentage point during the same period.
8 & 9. General Mills & Kraft Foods -- $95 million and $92 million, respectively
Both of these companies recognized recently that Latinos were some of the largest consumers in their markets who have large families to feed, often with young children. Naturally, Latina mothers are the key to these spending dollars, which is why General Mills started a site called "Que Rica Vida" to build a relationship with them.
10. General Motors -- $91 million
My grandfather loved telling the story about the GM marketing failure that was the Chevy Nova, which didn't sell well in Mexico, because in Spanish "No-va" translates to "It doesn't go." Unfortunately, the anecdote is most likely not true. The company has spent a lot of time and money trying to figure out the Latino consumer in recent years and has done quite well, even sponsoring the Latin Grammys in 2007. In fact, GM's Chevrolet and Silverado brands have been top sellers in the Hispanic market, according to HispanicBusiness.com.
(And Grandpa, I'm sorry for telling the internet your story probably isn't true.)