Hispanic Marketing to “Generation Si”


As the emerging buying power of Generation Z (typically classified as those currently in the 12-19 age bracket) is being felt by American marketers and retailers, another seismic demographic shift is being witnessed.

It’s the growth of a significant subset of Generation Z––Hispanic youth. Or as I like to call them, “Generation Si.”

It’s estimated that young Hispanics represent 23.5 percent of the total Generation Z population. Of this group, 93 percent are U.S. born. Many grew up speaking English in the home.

For the most part, these teen and tween Hispanics are saying “yes” to U.S. brands, mores and culture. And marketers are not missing a beat. Fast food and sugary beverage companies have got this group in their crosshairs. According to a report released by the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut, television advertising for candy, fast food and soft drinks, disproportionately targets young blacks and Hispanics.

“The majority of brands targeted to youth of color are nutritionally poor products that can be harmful to their health,” said Jennifer Harris, PhD, the report’s lead author and the Rudd Center’s director of marketing initiatives.


Ironically, companies like McDonalds–junk food or not¬–are being lauded for their Latino sensitivty. Last year, the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA) named McDonalds “Marketer of the Year.” The AHAA cites the fast food chain’s commitment to leading with ethnic insights, consistent focus on Latino research and business practices, and budgeting of multi-cultural business strategies.

As Generation Si considers purchasing their first automobile, the Japanese automakers are poised to win big time. Young Hispanics are 15 percent more likely to buy a Nissan, Honda or Toyota than any other group. And Hispanics make up 20 to 30 percent of these brands’ overall consumers.

Technology and phone service providers also do an excellent job reaching out to these young Latinos.

Many of these folks are bilingual and consume the majority of their media in English. This will make marketing to this emerging group trickier than simply repurposing ads in Spanish. It may also help marketers avoid such well-publicized snafus as the “Got Milk?” campaign experienced when they mistranslated their well-known catchphrase to mean “Are you lactating?”

How can your brand effectively tap into Hispanic marketing to Generation Z? Here are a few tips:

Understand basic terminology.

Latino. Hispanic. Spanish. Mexican-American. These terms are not as interchangeable as one might think. For instance, Puerto Ricans are not Mexican-Americans. They are Hispanics. Spanish people have their roots in Spain, so that’s a broad group. Although, many Hispanics don’t like to be labeled as Spanish because they are not European. Latinos are those who hail from Latin American countries, yet people in Latin America would never call themselves Latino or Hispanic. Confusing, si?

Include rather than isolate.

Although they are often bilingual, American-born Hispanics speak and read English. Rather than producing Spanish language advertising, a better strategy is to portray diversity in your English language ads. Generation Si wants to be seen as part of the fabric of America, not some brown barrio or ghetto.

Don’t stereotype.

A poll released by the National Hispanic Media Coalition and Latino shows that 51 percent of non-Latinos believe “welfare recipient” describes Hispanics very or somewhat well. Well, sorry to disappoint. Many Hispanic families struggle, but the majority of welfare recipients are actually white, not brown. Get rid of wrong-headed stereotypes.

Understand Gen Si’s shared Gen Z traits.

Many of the behavioral characteristics associated with mainstream Generation Z align closely with Hispanic cultural traits. They are cautious, value-conscious and eager to avoid debt. They are entrepreneurial and anxious to start working. They are digitally versed and open to buying things online.

Understand that many Gen Z traits are disconnects.

There are important differences. Generation Si departs from Generation Z in that they are more communal and less independent in their work styles. They are active on social media but not to the detriment of their real-life relationships. They are more patient – less in need of instant gratification.

Getting a handle of this growing demographic is important as the complexion of our country turns a darker shade of pale. If you need a strategic partner to help guide you in this or any other marketing endeavor, give Agency Creative a buzz at 972.488.1660.

We are a Dallas advertising agency with expertise in integrated marketing.