How to Reach Hispanic American Contractors and Homeowners
A white paper by Kleber & Associates
The fastest-growing cultural segment in the United States may also represent the consumer group with the most influence and buying potential for the home and construction product industry. This white paper outlines the size, scope, economic clout and multicultural characteristics of the estimated 62.1 million consumers identifying themselves as Hispanic or Latino. Given the continued growth in population, wealth and status of this increasingly influential consumer group, now is the time for building product brands to identify and leverage this trillion-dollar opportunity.
By the Numbers: Why You Should Be Interested –
The Economic and Societal Importance of Hispanic American Contractors and Homeowners
Population: Hispanic and Latino-American audiences have proven to be the fasting growing demographic in the United States. The United States Census Bureau1 has reported that the Hispanic population reached 62.1 million in 2020, accounting for 19% of all Americans. As a demographic category, it is also one of the fastest growing groups in the US. Between 2010 and 2020, the country’s Hispanic population grew 23%, up from 50.5 million in 2010. Since 1970, when Hispanics made up 5% of the U.S. population and numbered 9.6 million, the Hispanic population has grown more than six times. Hispanic population growth over the past decade – along with the increased spending power and decision–making abilities that come with growth – makes them an increasingly vital consumer market.
Employment Rates: Hispanic workforce numbers are expanding. In fact, the Hispanic population had a higher workforce contribution rate2 than all other demographics in 2018. As recently as 2020, 29 million Hispanics were in the workforce, more than tripling the 9 million recorded in 1988.2 This demographic made up 16.8 percent of the labor force in 2016, which was a 9.4 percent increase from 1988. The 2016 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report stated that between 2010 and 2016, Hispanics constituted 76.4 percent of the labor force growth in the U.S.3 and three out of every four new workers were Hispanic. Thanks to increasing population rates, employment and workforce contribution will continue to grow for Hispanic Americans.
Hispanics Before and After the Great Recession of 2008-2009: According to the Pew Research Center, in the year following the official end (June 2009) of the 2008-2009 Great Recession, gains occurred for foreign-born workers at a time when native-born workers sustained ongoing losses. During that time, foreign-born workers gained 656,000 jobs while native-born workers lost 1.2 million. As a result, the unemployment rate for immigrant workers fell 0.6 percentage points during this period (from 9.3 percent to 8.7 percent), while for native-born workers it rose 0.5 percentage points (from 9.2 percent to 9.7 percent). That employment trend reflected similarly within the U.S. Hispanic community. Employment among Hispanics increased by 392,000 from the second quarter of 2009 to the second quarter of 2010.
In 2019, financial fortunes appear to be on the mend for most American workers and the economic recovery, though in its infancy is attracting immigrant workers back to the U.S. According to the Pew Research Center, Latino income, overall, is higher now than before the Great Recession of 2008-2009. The median personal income for Latino workers rose 5 percent from 2007 to 2017. This gain has been driven by rise in share of higher-income immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for more years.
Homeownership: During a time when overall homeownership rates have declined, the rate of Hispanic homeownership has actually increased. The NAHREP accounts that from 2015 to 2016, the rate of homeownership for Hispanic Americans increased from 45.6 percent to 46 percent. At the same time, the overall rate of homeownership from 2015 to 16 decreased from 63.7 percent to 63.4 percent, marking a 51-year low. The Hispanic Wealth Project’s 2016 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report documents that in 2016, 7,301,000 Hispanic households owned their own home, accounting for 74.9 percent of the net growth in the U.S.
Income Growth: Overall, income rates have risen for this group. Between 2016 and 2017, the Hispanic American demographic had a 3.7 percent increase in real median income of households to $50,486. Meanwhile, the United States Census Bureau also reported that there was an overall decline in poverty rate in 2017, and that the Hispanic rate had one of the largest year-to-year drops for poverty rate in all demographics.
Education: As the Hispanic population has grown in the United States, so have student enrollment rates. The number of students in primary education, secondary education, and college or universities has doubled from 1996 to 2016. It increased from 8.8 million to 17.9 million. There has also been an increase in school attendance rates from 1996 to 2016. The 18 to 19 year old age group experienced a 21.4-percent increase. While the 20 to 21 age group enrollment rate increased by 26.4 percent compared to the 9.1 percent increase for non-Hispanics. Increases in enrollment and attendance rates are also accompanied by increases in high school completion and college attendance during the same time period. Among Hispanics between the ages of 18 to 24, 34.5 percent did not complete high school in 1996. In 2016 this rate drastically decreased to 9.9 percent. Additionally, the college enrollment rate increased by 2.4 million.
Hispanic Business Growth: As of 2021, there were about 5 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States and about 14.4 percent of Hispanic businesses were engaged in in the construction industry during 2018. These small businesses drive $800 billion into the United States economy annually. During that year, the average revenue of Hispanic-owned businesses increased by 26.5 percent. Moreover, the number of credit applications from this group grew by 22 percent within 2018. Construction is one of the top two industries for Hispanic business owners.
Spending: Evidence is also mounting that Hispanics are investing heavily to improve their homes. Hispanics’ estimated share of home improvement spending was $19.4 billion in 2012, or 9 percent of all sales, according to The Stevenson Company. This organization also found that this market is twice as likely to buy outdoor power equipment as a gift than the U.S. population overall – just one reason why The Home Depot invested $51 million advertising in Hispanic media in 2012, and Lowe’s spent another $33 million.
Advertising: Collectively, these and other significant statistics reveal an unprecedented opportunity for the building products industry. It is a trend that caught many marketers’ attention after the 2008 election, when Barack Obama’s election was attributed in large part to record turnout among Hispanic and Latino American voters. Since that time, marketing aimed at this massive demographic has exploded. In 2017, Procter & Gamble (P&G) spent $336 million in advertising. And the overall price of advertising to the United States Hispanic consumers reached $9.2 billion in 2017.
Messaging towards Hispanic Consumers
With the growing population numbers and the intensifying spending power of the Hispanic demographic, it becomes even more important to understand that generalized messaging is not effective within this group. To successfully market to Hispanic Americans, advertisers must recognize their shifting identities, relationships, family involvement and cultural connectivity.
Shifting Identities: While some marketers, media and other influencers see Hispanics and Latinos as a single ethnic category, they are in fact an extraordinarily diverse mixture of races, cultures and religions from some 20 different countries. And it is those cultures and countries of origin that often shape audience identity more than how they are labeled.
The words “Hispanic” and Latino” have different meanings. Hispanic refers to the language of a person. Anyone who speaks Spanish or descends from Spanish speaking populations is Hispanic. While Latino refers to descendants from Latin America. For example, someone from Chile can be considered Hispanic because they speak Spanish, whereas someone from Brazil would be considered Latino because they actually speak Portuguese.
It is also important to know that traditionally, the term “Hispanic” is an ethnicity, not a race. People of Hispanic origin can identify as any race or as multiple races. At least, this is how federal policy views the term “Hispanic.” However, this idea is changing. According to Pew Research, two-thirds of the Hispanics polled say that being Hispanic is part of their racial background, rather than just their ethnicity. The lines of race and ethnicity are evolving and blurring in social contexts especially within recent generations.
The lines are also becoming unclear with the terms Hispanic and Latino. It increasingly appears that pan-ethnic labels are less important to this demographic than country of origin. Following being asked whether they prefer the term “Hispanic” or “Latino,” 70 percent said it didn’t matter, reported a Gallup poll. Men had less sensitivity about being labeled (74 percent said it didn’t matter) and political liberals cared the least (79 percent).
It is clear that race and ethnicity is more about self-identification. Another Pew Research Center study reports that 23 percent of Hispanics refer to themselves as ‘American’ rather than Latino or Hispanic. In the years ahead, one can extrapolate that many more of these consumers may not think of themselves as anything other than “American.” “U.S.-born Hispanics exhibit distinctly different behaviors from their immigrant parents in areas such as language preference and cultural identification,” wrote Jeff Koyen in AdWeek. “Third-generation Hispanics are different still, often not even identifying themselves ethnically.”
As each new generation of the Hispanic population is born, Hispanic identity continues to fade. This is evident with the change in racial and ethnic self-identification. Pew Research says that by the third generation (U.S. born adults with immigrant grandparents), 77 percent self-identify as Hispanic. By the fourth generation, about half of adults identify as Hispanic.
Similarly, the number of parents that speak Spanish to their children lessens in later generations, although they claim that it’s important to them for future generations to know how to speak Spanish. A total of 97 percent of immigrant parents say they speak Spanish to their children, while 85 percent of Latino parents say they speak Spanish to their children. This number falls even further with the next generation of parents. Of U.S. born, second-generation Hispanic parents, 71 percent speak Spanish to their children. The number then drops even further to 49 percent with third generation parents.
Prioritizing Loyalty and Relationships: In everyday life – as in commerce – Hispanics and Latinos tend to seek personal interactions. They are more relationship-oriented than transactional, and want to feel comfortable and adequately informed before making a decision. It’s about quality, rather than quantity.
Even for second- and third-generation Hispanic Americans, relationships remain key. Strive to connect on a personal level: Treat each person as an individual, listen well to their needs and stories, answer their questions, engage them in ways that make them feel comfortable. Do not rush them to make decisions, and above all … show that you appreciate their interest in your products or services. To the latter point, loyalty rewards can go a long way with this demographic.
Tap passion points – but respect cultural and national differences. Family, music, sports, beauty, food, heritage … all can be considered “passion points,” that resonate deeply with many Hispanic and Latino consumers.
Knowledge is power—strive to understand the cultures of your Hispanic audiences and connect with them through messages that center on the ideals they value.
From Honduras to Cuba and Puerto Rico to Mexico, Hispanics have a variety of heritages with vastly different traditions, cultural norms, foods, pastimes and other preferences. Avoid trying to appeal to “all” Hispanics with anything that could be perceived as a stereotype, and where possible identify touch points — such as holidays and language idioms — that can speak to specific segments. For instance, El Salvador celebrates its independence every September 15. If there is a large population of El Salvadorans in the market you serve, you might consider recognizing that day with a special event or discount and, of course, the nation’s flag.
Family Involvement: Family is enormously important to many Hispanic consumers, a fact that should not be overlooked in marketing messages, images and events. Some retailers and other marketers do, in fact, position themselves as destinations that will educate and entertain the entire family, children included. Others subtly suggest a purchase’s potential positive impact on the family – an appliance for a kitchen in which large families gather, for example.
Hispanic women in particular wield enormous purchasing influence. So speak to Latinas in ways that appeal to their values, interests and aspirations … including education and advancement for themselves and their children, as well as the long-term well-being of their aging relatives.
Hispanic women are especially influential buyers. In “Latina Power Shift,” a report from Nielsen, 86 percent of Latinas reported that they are the primary shoppers in their households, meaning that they control the vast majority of the $1.2 trillion in buying power currently attributed to Hispanic Americans. Notably with regard to big-ticket items, such as home and building products.
Cultural Decisions: “With Latinos, the consumer is not the boss … culture is the boss,” said Enrique Marquez, director of strategy at Lapiz, the Latino agency of advertising giant Leo Burnett. In late 2012, Lapiz released a consumer research study called LatinoShop that reported this market views shopping much differently than others.
“Cultural roots and a strong heritage influence the way Latinos eat, clean, cook and ultimately how they buy and consume goods,” according to a survey summary. “For instance, Latinos’ shopping experience is inherently social, leveraging other people’s opinions, advice and feedback through a variety of channels and networks when they shop.” Before making a purchase, in fact, they are more than twice as likely as non-Latinos to ask family members’ opinions.
So powerful is “cultural connectivity” among many Hispanic consumers that they may actually become desensitized to – or even turned off by – marketing campaigns that they perceive as aimed only at scoring a transaction with them … rather than appealing to their sense of cultural identity, according to ThinkNow Research. “Hispanics are measurably more inclined to build loyal relationships with people and companies that take the time to understand who they are: their values, their culture, their identity.”
Consider their tendency to shopping with others, notably family members: “For Latinos, shopping is a family affair.” Case in point: Latinos are more than three times as likely as non-Latinos to enjoy shopping with their children. “Shopping as a family provides a learning environment where it’s not uncommon for young family members to introduce elders to new products and brands, while ultimately influencing purchasing decisions.”
Similarly, as they consider making purchases, Hispanics often think about the investment’s impact on their family and community. Buying a TV or a kitchen appliance may well conjure positive images of the family gathering together.
Yet more reasons Hispanics (especially those born in other countries) like to shop with family members: “To get their opinion, have a fun family activity, create a learning experience for their children and to get some assistance to make the shopping trip more efficient,” according to Latinum Network.
Tactics for Marketing to Hispanic Contractors: How to Share your Message
What is equally as important as what goes into your message is how you share that message and the tactics you employ. Here are some ways to reach Hispanic American contractor audiences and use your message:
Join and Become Active in Organizations and Associations: Multiple organizations have been created and established to help stimulate growth for Hispanic owned businesses, such as the Regional Hispanic Contractors Association, Bilingual America, The Roofing Alliance for Progress, and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as well as the National Hispanic Construction Association (NHCA). The NHCA’s mission is, “To serve the Hispanic Construction professional at the national and state level in advocacy, education, training, business resources and communication.”
These organizations are an ideal way to cultivate relationships and lay the groundwork for future marketing efforts. Generally, associations and organizations have advertising or marketing opportunities available and are efficient venues to reach the Hispanic population. For example, the NHCA represents over 4,500 companies. Additionally, their chapters reach over 35,000 Hispanic owned construction firms and use marketing through newsletters, their website and social media to reach them.
Associations like the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce also support and sponsor trade shows, providing yet another opportunity to reach this audience. Participating in these events is another means for building relationships and marketing to this group.
Utilizing English and Spanish: With 40 million fluent speakers, Spanish remains the second-most spoken language in the U.S. However, the growth in the number of Hispanics who can speak Spanish has slowed overall. These trends are expected to continue as more generations are born, creating a greater distance from the original immigrant generation.
Although statistics are suggesting that Spanish is spoken less in Hispanic households, the language remains an important part of their identity. In a recent poll, 88 percent say it is important that future generations in the United States can speak Spanish. This view is held across multiple generations. Because of this, it is vital to include the Spanish language when marketing to Hispanic populations, and to understand its importance as we are moving away from immigrant generations to U.S.-born populations.
One way to accomplish this is to take a bilingual approach to marketing and advertising. Using both English and Spanish or using “Spanglish” can be successful, considering 62 percent of adult Hispanics in the U.S. are bilingual. Some marketers forge subtle emotional connections with Hispanics by merely including one or more well-chosen Spanish terms – such as “abuela,” for grandmother. Be aware, however, that certain words and phrases can mean different things in different countries, so do your research. In Mexico, the word “coche” refers to car, for instance, but in Guatemala it means pig. Better to use the term that is familiar to and appropriate for the largest possible group of Latinos (in this case, “auto”).
Another way to market to this group is to spend some time on translating all materials to Spanish. This will not only make it easier for some to read in their native language, it also denotes respect. In addition, some age groups with more buying power will engage more with marketing that displays the Spanish language. Similarly, make your website available in English as well as Spanish, so buyers can switch to their language of choice at the push of a button.
Incorporating Social Media: Most companies engage and use social media as a marketing tool to attract new clientele or keep older, loyal clientele. Hispanic Americans have surpassed almost every other ethnic group on use of various social media channels. Hispanics are a collective society; meaning they communicate within groups, equaling Asians on Facebook use and being just behind Asians on YouTube use. “Hispanic culture is, by nature, social and group-oriented. Word-of-mouth marketing may be a worthwhile investment in order to reach the booming U.S. Hispanic/Latino consumer base. Hispanics tend to use social media and express their opinions online about brands more often than their non-Hispanic counterparts.” The most used social platforms by the demographic are Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
Millennials and Gen Z comprise the fastest-growing segments of the online population. They are more likely than their non-Hispanic counterparts to shop with a phone or tablet computer, as well as to use social media during the shopping process. Their expectations that websites be optimized for mobile use cannot be overstated. This means that being active on every relevant social media platform should be a priority for marketing to this demographic.
Being Concerned for Causes: Corporate, social and environmental responsibility impacts the buying behavior of Hispanic- and Latino-American consumers more than their non-Hispanic counterparts. Ninety-four percent of Hispanics are likely to switch to a brand associated with a good cause (versus 89 percent of the general U.S. population) and 62 percent of Hispanics have bought a product with a social or environmental benefit in the past 12 months (versus 54 percent of the general population).
One way to help build your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) brand is to consider donating products to aid the massive rebuilding that continues to occur due to the recent natural disasters, such as hurricanes that have caused destruction in parts Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Additionally, a large percentage of Puerto Rico’s residents have family residing in the continental U.S., thus showing support for Puerto Rico during its time of need would help resonate and build loyalty in regions with large Hispanic populations.
Use of Rewards: How important is price to Hispanic- and Latino-American consumers? Like most other consumers, Hispanics are savvy spenders, investors and savers.
An August 2013 report titled Prosper Insights & Analytics found that 69.7 percent of Hispanic women and 60.5 percent of Hispanic men usually buy when an item is on sale. The flip side of this inducement is that they may not respond well to price increases later. “Retailers will do well to consider a pricing strategy that ‘walks’ up their pricing, by tying in loyalty programs … merchants seeking to profitably build relationships and business with the Hispanic consumer may choose to provide an added reward for their best customers.”
Rewards may play well in mobile advertising, too. Like most consumers, the majority of Hispanic mobile users said they find ads on mobile phones annoying – but more than 60 percent said they would be willing to accept these ads in return for certain rewards, such as lower monthly charges or additional services.
Coupons and loyalty programs are also attractive to many Hispanic consumers. However, price is only part of the picture. In a virtual roundtable conducted earlier this year, Latinum Network found that only around 3 percent of Hispanics considered price to be their main purchase driver across all product categories. “Across the board, Hispanics don’t want to sacrifice quality over prices, are willing to pay more for products they trust and prefer looking for deals rather than buying the lowest-priced product.”
It is clear that Hispanic Americans are a rapidly growing group within the United States. Building product brands can no longer afford to alienate or ignore this demographic as their influence and potential is projected to continue growing with rising income and business growth, as well as homeownership rates.