Oct 17, 2023
To Engage Gen Z Latinos, Brands Should Lean Into Music, Spanglish and Tiktok
The Latino community comprises 19% of the U.S. population and exceeds 25% of Gen Z. This rapidly growing demographic is not only assimilating into America but impacting the broader culture in fascinating ways.
In four of the past five years, the most streamed artist on Spotify was Latino/a. We’re seeing a rapid growth of Hispanic stories told in general market platforms, such as Eva Longoria’s directorial debut film Flaming Hot on Hulu and John Leguizamo’s new series being renewed for a second season on MSNBC. This group is excited about their American future but maintains a stickiness to their Latino past. A whopping 39% of Hispanic Gen Zers report feeling “an amplified affinity to their ancestral legacy,” which is unique for a youth demographic to espouse.
The 2023 proprietary study titled The Latino Mosaic, commissioned by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Chemistry (my advertising agency) uncovered insights to help brands successfully engage younger generations of multicultural consumers. To reach these dynamic, upwardly mobile trendsetters, brands should lean into three recent trends that have popped: Spanglish in advertising, a passion for music and leveraging the power of TikTok.
One of the most fascinating trendlines in this new paradigm is the fluidity of language. What used to be a binary choice between English and Spanish is now more akin to a spectrum.
Not surprisingly, English as a preferred language has grown exponentially by generation. 50% of first-generation Latinos prefer exclusively Spanish, while the number drops to only 4% of the third generation. However, counter-intuitively the opposite occurs with Spanglish.
Rather than merely having younger generations adopt English, as all immigrant groups did before, a full 20% of Gen Z Latinos prefer Spanglish over either language. In other words, something new and interesting is afoot. Younger gens are not merely assimilating, nor rejecting American culture, but rather inventing something that beautifully melds the two.
This cross-cultural nuance is evident in Spanish-language commercials that are increasingly airing on English-language broadcast television and Spanglish often appearing on previously Spanish-only networks like Univision and Telemundo. Furthermore, the prevalence of digital and social media has made it easier to target by language, helping marketers connect authentically with consumers in the way they communicate with each other.
Another interesting shift is the exponential growth of Latin music. This is not only evident with the popularity of Reggaeton among the general population, but also its impact on Hispanics themselves.
When asked to choose their number one passion point from a list of eight options, a whopping 38% of Gen Z Latinos chose music. To put this in perspective, this was the choice of only 17% of Boomers, for whom sports remains their go-to entertainment. Brands should employ strategies to capitalize on this trend, including deals with up-and-coming Latin artists, experiential activations and weaving chart-topping Spanish-language tracks into creative across paid, earned and owned channels.
Furthermore, marketers should consider partnering with startups focused on Latino music to engage authentically. One celebrated new entrant is Ntertain, a vertically integrated venture launched by music icons Tommy Mottola and Lex Borrero, which includes talent management, label, promotion and concert production.
Our Latino Mosaic study also found that 48% of Latinos are daily users of TikTok, as compared to only 36% of the general market. More remarkably, 20% of Latinos go to TikTok to “discover new brands,” which is nearly double the percentage for the broader community. Major brands such as Toyota, ESPN and the NFL have leveraged Spanglish ads with great success, ensuring the trend will only increase.
As the social media paradigm shifts, marketers should follow a few simple guidelines:
- User-generated content continues to grow exponentially. Rather than “sales marketing,” brands should consider including creator partnerships in their strategy, which combines a product attribute with authentic messaging that originates directly from social influencers.
- The data is in and crystal clear in telling us that language is fluid for younger generations who toggle back and forth between English and Spanish, sometimes in the same sentence. Brands should artfully adopt this approach to become organic participants in the conversation.
- The number-one passion point for Gen Z Latinos is music, which is a departure from Gen X and Boomers who favored sports by a wide margin. Brands should turn the volume up and connect with the rhythms of the next generation.
Whether in entertainment, marketing, politics or business, a new way of communicating is emerging. Rather than run away from these rapidly shifting trends, brands should sprint towards engaging this target-rich environment that represents 25% of every birth in America today. Simply put, it’s time to reframe la conversación.
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