As we come up on the midpoint of the year, it’s a good time to dust off our annual marketing plans and see how things are going. If you’re like many of us, you might have had to veer off the plan a bit to accommodate changes in the business and/or the market. One such change you may be considering is a shift in the demographics of your target markets — the face of the American construction industry is changing: At nearly 23 million, people of Hispanic (or Latino)* ethnicity represented 15 percent of the U.S. labor force in 2011. And according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s The Latino Labor Force at a Glance report, Hispanics account for almost one in every four workers in the construction industry today and will grow 2.9 percent annually by 2020.
Because your company’s growth is limited by the size of your market, a diversification strategy that includes focusing on Hispanic customers opens up new possibilities and expands your business opportunities. And, competition for this growing segment is heating up. This is why it is incredibly important for construction companies like yours to focus marketing power on targeting this customer base.
Here are some insights to keep in mind as you begin to develop tactics to target this demographic:
1. Understand America’s changing population
The 2010 U.S. Census revealed that one in six U.S. residents is Hispanic, and according to a new report released in early May from the U.S. Census Bureau, minorities accounted for 92 percent of the nation’s population growth in the last decade. Hispanics tend to make up the majority of immigrants, and they tend to be younger and to have more children than non-Hispanic whites. As an example, the Census revealed that of the total births between July 2010 and July 2011 nearly 26 percent were Hispanic.
With the Hispanic population rapidly on the rise, do not underestimate the need for language and cultural relevance in marketing to Hispanics. When it comes to attracting Hispanic customers, a one-size-fits-all marketing approach doesn’t work. It is unrealistic for construction companies to expect the Hispanic community to conform to their traditional marketing efforts — it’s got to be the other way around. This market’s cultural and linguistic nuances dictate a more tailored approach.
2. It’s culturally driven, not language driven
Hispanic customs and norm tend to be more formal. For example, most Hispanics use Mr. or Mrs. (or preferably, Señor or Señora) instead of first names when addressing others, and they expect this consideration in return. Marketers courting Hispanics need to be polite and plan on investing time with a customer — listen well, recognize individuals and engage them to make them comfortable, and at ease, with your company.
Hispanics prefer high levels of customer services, valuing personal relationships over speed and efficiency. For example, they prefer to build relationships, particularly with companies, over time. Don’t expect your Hispanic customers to make fast decisions, especially when major purchases are involved.
Hispanics rely more on collective decision-making and security from family members and friends, instead of conventional institutions — don’t ignore or discount the family members who are involved in the shopping experience and decision-making process.
Hispanics tend to be loyal to businesses that they trust — and they will tell others about these businesses as well. Positive word-of-mouth from these customers can lead to a significant amount of referral business from their family and friends.
3. Keep Hispanics in mind in all your marketing efforts
Hispanics outreach is the most effective way to reach these customers. To differentiate your company to Hispanics consumers, you need to do more than simply sell products and services. Your marketing efforts and your company need to be visible where Hispanics live, work and play.
Begin by partnering with community organizations that have already established relationships with the Hispanic community and have earned their trust. These may include area-employers, human services organizations, non-profits, colleges and universities. Advertising through community partners and local Spanish media will ensure that you are eliminating other barriers.
And, at every stage of the marketing planning and implementation process, ask the question: “What about our Hispanics customers?” This means incorporating them in an integrated approach that includes advertising, promotions, events and sponsorships, community outreach and PR tactics.
By keeping your Hispanic customers top-of-mind as you define your marketing strategy and success metrics, conceive new products and design new packaging, as well as develop new creative and media plans, you will get the results you want.
4. Prepare your infrastructure
Every resource your company develops to target and attract Hispanic customers should be focused on them. This includes tactics such as offering bilingual marketing, operating and service materials, developing a Spanish version of your website, training your employees in both language and cultural nuances, as well as educating your Hispanic customers on the trends and topics affecting the construction industry, not just your products and services.
Partner with industry organizations like the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association who can double check your company’s marketing approach and messages to be sure they are culturally relevant and in context with your company’s mission and values.
Diversifying your marketing efforts to focus on Hispanics is an investment in your company’s future: Make the commitment, and your company may be well-positioned to capture a loyal and growing customer base with a tremendous amount of influence and power. Looking at numbers, it’s easy to see that Hispanic customers will be a part of your future marketing efforts…soon.
* For reference, a “Hispanic” or “Latino” person is defined someone of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.