“Se habla español”: Reaching
out to the Growing Hispanic Population
How to cater to, and market
to, the growing Hispanic and Latino population in the United States is
something many industries and even government agencies are trying to understand
and master today.
Here at US Funerals Online,
we wrote some time ago a short piece on ‘Funeral Homes Catering to the
Hispanic Population’, and yet it is still a topic that warrants further
discussion. The population trends speak volumes and cannot be ignored,
with a growth of 43% in the last decade (1),
and Hispanics now accounting for around 1 out of 6 residents. According
to the Census Bureau by 2050 ethnic and racial minorities will have reached
the point where they will become the majority, and at this point 1 out
of 3 U.S. citizens will be of Hispanic origin.
Is “se habla español”
enough to reach a Hispanic audience?
|We have already witnessed
a shift in the funeral industry, with more and more businesses adapting
to cater to their local Hispanic populations. Many funeral homes
have taken the steps to employ Spanish-speaking staff, and where possible
promote “se habla español” on their advertising literature and web
Some funeral businesses have
taken it one step further, either re-branding their existing funeral home
to accommodate Hispanic needs or setting up a completely new arm of their
funeral business that is solely catering to a Hispanic audience.
One cannot ignore what ‘Dignity Memorial’ (SCI) are doing, as surely we
should look to how a huge corporate is adapting to the new challenges of
a changing market. SCI have already begun their program to adapt to this
market with the conversion of funeral homes in key States with a large
Hispanic population. SCI have branded the ‘Funerarias Del Angel’
network of funeral homes specifically serving the Hispanic communities
across the U.S.
The whole aspect of catering
to the Hispanic market is more than just adding the “se habla español”
dimension to marketing media. Hispanic funeral customs and cultures
do vary significantly, and in order to appeal to a Hispanic clientele,
a funeral home needs to meet these cultural needs. Rituals may need
to facilitate the family being much more actively involved in preparing
the body, offer more extensive and elaborate visitations and appeal to
the vibrant ‘fiesta’ nature of Hispanic culture. Funeral homes that
are successfully appealing to the Hispanic population are often incorporating
symbolic aspects such as architecture, colors and embracing the Catholic
roots that influence their culture.
Icons, Symbolism & Family Values
The icon of the Virgin of
Guadalupe, otherwise known as ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’, holds major significance
for Hispanics, along with the Castillian roses that symbolize the story
of Juan Diego and the founding of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
in Mexico City (the third most visited religious site in the world).
Family is extremely important
in Hispanic culture, in fact, to the point that they believe it IS the
one thing we can take with us when we die. Add to this the central
beliefs about ‘Día de los Muertos’(2),
(The Day of the Dead) when many Hispanics believe the dead walk amongst
the living, and one begins to embrace an understanding of the Hispanic
customs of burial, and especially returning to one’s homeland for burial.
Understanding the generational
shift of Hispanics and the Online Audience
|Having a shrine for the
deceased where family can gather, remember and celebrate is a key aspect
of cultural practice, and Hispanic cemeteries differ quite significantly
in how elaborate and colorful graves are. Even though cremation is
being more widely accepted into Hispanic customs, family still require
a shrine site for visitation, and funeral homes in Mexico are now creating
grand Columbarium’s to house cremation urns and family memorabilia.
Removing language barriers
may be one aspect to reaching a Hispanic audience, but anyone who has learnt
Spanish will understand that there are cultural expressions and nuances
that simply do not translate in a literal sense. This was best explained
to me by a Mexican friend who suggested that to be able to learn the language
I needed to embrace and understand the culture!
Many funeral homes are going
one step further than simply offering “Se Habla Español”, and offering
their whole web site in Spanish. Although various tools are available
online today to translate web content, having content professionally translated
by a Spanish-speaker will have a greater appeal.
According to comScore (3),
the Hispanic online demographic is growing more than 50% faster than the
overall U.S. online population, with over 20 million now using the Internet.
An important feature of this Hispanic online audience is that they are
younger than the ‘average’ online audience, and what we are seeing is the
younger generation of Hispanics utilizing the medium of the Internet.
It is reported than over 60% of the Hispanic online audience is under 35
From a funeral business perspective
this suggests that there is an opportunity to appeal to the sons and daughters
of Hispanics who migrated to the States over the last few decades. The
children who will be left the task of arranging their parent’s funerals.
And, interestingly, research
shows that there are a couple of distinct trends amongst these online users.
The Hispanic audience is demonstrating a preference to social media sites
such as Facebook and YouTube, and accessing online via mobile devices.
According to researchers, this is due to the fact that there is a lack
of quality web content for Hispanics, so they have turned to social media
as a domain to create their own content-sharing platforms.
An important aspect of how
to harness the growing Hispanic population is to use online media to reach
the offline audience. For example, producing downloadable PDF’s and
brochures that are adequately translated and aimed at the right literacy
levels for the offline Hispanic population. The research would also
suggest that using social media is a way to reach a wider Hispanic audience,
and certainly creating ‘sound bites’ of information and visual data such
as YouTube clips that can be easily shared.
It seems that in terms of
a mid to long term business strategy, reaching out to the Hispanic population
is imperative for those funeral businesses who strive to serve their community,
and wish to continue being effective and successful at doing so as our
cultural demographic changes.
Are you a funeral home who
has already adapted to cater to the Hispanic population? Or have
you had experience as a consumer arranging a traditional Hispanic funeral?
Please share your experience and submit your comments below.
1. ‘Hispanic population
tops 50 million in U.S.’ LA Times
2. A holiday celebrated
throughout Mexico and around the world in other Catholic cultures. The
holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember
friends and family members who have died. It typically takes place on November
1st and 2nd.
3. comScore is a global
leader in measuring the digital world and a preferred source of digital
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