Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) is an annual celebration that recognizes the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture and achievements of the United States. September 15th marks the beginning of the month-long observation in honor of the anniversaries of independence for several Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence days within the month on September 16 and September 18, respectively.
In more recent years, a growing number of U.S. consumer brands have launched HHM campaigns to show their support for the Hispanic community. While this moment can provide a great opportunity for brands to celebrate their Hispanic consumers and move the needle with marketing and sales goals, there are several key considerations to keep in mind before executing a campaign.
| Authenticity Is Key
Before dedicating resources to activating around HHM, ensure your brand already supports the Hispanic community year-round or your campaign may appear opportunistic or out of touch. Ask yourself: Does the brand already give back to the Hispanic community? Do we hire Hispanic talent throughout the year? Do we have the authority to speak about HHM? The answers to these questions are essential in ensuring any activation is rooted in authenticity and efforts are aligned with the community's needs and interests on an ongoing basis rather than one time each year.
| Recognize Diversity Within the Community
While historically HHM programming has focused on immigrants and their contributions to U.S. culture, it’s important to recognize that the Hispanic community in the U.S. is more robust today than it has ever been before: according to Pew Research, 36 percent are immigrants, 34 percent are second generation (U.S. born to at least one immigrant parent) and 30 percent are third or higher generation (U.S. born to U.S. born parents). Many Hispanics born in the U.S. have even created their own culture that is different from the cultures of their parents or grandparents, as it is influenced by both their ancestors and own experiences growing up in the country. By recognizing there is no one history that represents all the cultures that fall into the Hispanic community, brands can avoid alienating segments of the population while also better engaging younger generations.
| Latino vs. Hispanic vs. Latinx
The recently increased conversations on what term to use when referring to this community shows just how diverse Latinos truly are and their individual desire to own their narrative and evolution. While in general, the more traditional terms like Hispanic or Latino are preferred over Latinx when referring to the ethnic group (according to Pew Research), anyone who wants to identify as Latino, Hispanic or Latinx can. As with any part of a person’s identity, cultural identity must be acknowledged and respected.
Engaging Hispanic talent, media and vendors should not be included in campaign recommendations to simply check a box — they should be engaged on an ongoing, year-round basis to help brands and programming evolve to better cater to the diverse Latino consumer. Hispanics are incredibly savvy consumers with the purchasing power and ability to influence others on their preferred brands, and this insight should be used to advocate for Hispanic community engagements and programming that connect with consumers in an authentic, ongoing way.
Peyton Johnson is manager, Influence Marketing, Washington, D.C.