As I anxiously waited in Corral C for the Peachtree Road Race in Buckhead — the largest road race in the United States, which takes place annually on July 4th in Atlanta — I began to hear chatter behind me. What struck me as a bit unusual that hot and steamy summer morning, was that the words were not peppered with the typical Southern drawl I would have expected to hear but instead were in Spanish. As I listened in, I learned that one of the individuals was from Colombia and the other from Chile, and as I was born in Cuba it was quite appropriate that we had all fatefully landed in the C Corral.
Their conversation spanned all the pleasantries – life in Atlanta, career, family. Without skipping a step, I jumped into the conversation and introduced myself – a trait that comes naturally to Latinos everywhere. Between sprints and strides, we talked more and more; however, even the friendly conversation could not dissipate the thick humid air that morning. Halfway through the race, a bid adios to my new friends so I could slow down.
Fast forward a few days later, and I’m on the Atlanta Track Club website looking up my race results – you could say I won’t be competing in the Olympics any time soon – when I noticed the number of individuals with the last name, Herrera, who had participated in this year’s race – a total of nine! When I ran my first Peachtree Road Race in 2003, I was the only Herrera registered. As a marketing professional with a penchant for demographics, this sparked my curiosity so I started doing some very unscientific research. Here is a sample of what I uncovered:
Ten most common Latino last names in U.S. and # of 2013 Peachtree Road Race runners by last name
- Garcia 33
- Rodriguez 31
- Martinez 26
- Hernandez 29
- Lopez 17
- Gonzalez 22
- Perez 22
- Sanchez 21
- Ramirez 5
- Torres 15
While I assume Hispanics totaled a relatively small percentage of participates in the 44th Annual Peachtree Road Race this year, I am also assuming that the numbers are dramatically larger than a decade ago. This is based on my very unscientific survey; however, there is a clear and unmistakable trend of many more Hispanics participating in this annual athletic and cultural event that brings together so many Atlantans.
I was reminded of a recent Nielson report headline and of what those of us in the Hispanic marketing trenches have been advising for a while now that the “Latino Populations Are Growing Fastest Where We Aren’t Looking.”
Hispanics are everywhere, infusing their heritage and cultural values into organizations and businesses across the country as well as embracing American traditions to create a new culturally-relevant society! As much as we love Cinco de Mayo, Noche Buena, fútbol and café con leche, we also love Independence Day, Halloween, football and Thanksgiving. We get to enjoy and participate in the best of both worlds! Hispanics are bilingual and bicultural – moving effortlessly between two worlds – building relationships and bolstering the American economy by leveraging Hispanics’ natural abilities in the business world.
So how does my running experience and unscientific survey tie into Hispanic marketing and PR? Here are 5 tips to ensuring you capitalize on the Hispanic opportunity.
- If you do not invite this market to participate in your business, you could be missing close to half of your potential market – depending on which part of the country you live in. Atlanta is now 10% Hispanic and in certain Georgia counties the percent Hispanic is much higher. Miami is 47% Hispanic, LA is 44%, Houston is 34% oh and did I mention Charlotte is 13% and Oklahoma City is 17% Hispanic. Oklahoma City you say? Who would have thought?
- Athletic wear (2014 is a World Cup year) and especially running shoe and apparel makers should take a good look at the Latino market as a growth opportunity.
- Do not be afraid to take the first step. Many companies just think about entering the Hispanic market. Don’t just think and think about it for years while the competition beats you to the punch by launching culturally-relevant Hispanic programs and captures this market. Act now!
- It is easy to connect with the Hispanic market if you find a specialist to guide you and show you the way. Strategize together with your advisory team on how best to introduce your product or service to this growing market.
- It could be as simple as community involvement, PR, Spanish-language collateral materials or event sponsorships. Or it could be as involved as a full-fledged multimedia campaign. Whatever you and your team decide is best for your brand and your Hispanic market target market be sure to engage with a trusted advisor who will show you the way.
Marketing is similar to running…a good and trusted trainer is key to your success.
Kudos go out to the Atlanta Track Club for their Hispanic outreach efforts! ¡Adelante!
Ralph E. Herrera
President & Founder
Lanza Group, LLC
July 12, 2013