My Spanish Window

Guest Post by Kelly Dawes

I’m not fluent, but I’m passionate. I’m more than one race; I’m a culture. I’m not young, but I’m not old. Where and how do I begin to describe myself? This is how so many of us feel. We feel as if we don’t truly fit into any one, labeled category.

Most of us hate being labeled as just one group, whether it’s race, religion, or even our income. Those survey questions that ask you to “check only one that applies” instill a feeling of uneasiness in so many of us. What does it mean when you choose only one answer when you were actually thinking about answering differently for an entire two-minute debate?

In the recent 2010 U.S. Census, individuals were allowed to choose two or more races to describe themselves for the very first time. This was accomplished by either checking a box titled “two or more races” or by providing multiple race responses. The concept of legally identifying yourself to the government as two different races is incredible in itself, and the beauty lies in what you truly identify yourself as. If you are only 1/16 Hispanic and the other part Caucasian, but you identify yourself as Hispanic, you can claim yourself as Hispanic; it’s up to you.

I walk around Dallas and hear Spanish all the time: in the grocery store, in my office, on the radio, or on the television when I am flipping through the stations and stumble upon Forest Gump with Spanish dubbing. The Spanish language is constantly around me. I feel as if right now I am living halfway through a Spanish window where I am slowly and gradually immersing myself into speaking and learning more and more of the language. Language, just like the race that you “check” to describe yourself, is just the surface of who you are. It seems that the cultural makeup of our nation is slowly shifting from labeling individuals just as a demographic but is now identifying them as a psychographic. Instead of solely looking at just the age, income and education level of individuals, psychographics look more at the overarching idea of what makes Latino consumers tick.

A multicultural research firm, The New American Dimension, divided the Hispanic market into the following sub segments:

  1. Just moved in’rs: Recent arrivals, Spanish dependent, struggling but optimistic)
  2. FOBrs (Fashionistas on a budget): Spanish dominant, traditional, but striving for trendy
  3. Accidental explorers: Spanish preferred, but not in a rush to embrace U.S. culture.
  4. The enlightened: Bilingual, technology savvy, driven, educated, modern
  5. Doubting Tomáses: Bilingual, independent, skeptical, inactive, shopping uninvolved.
  6. Latin flavored: English preferred, reconnecting with Hispanic traditions
  7. SYLrs (single, young Latinos): English dominant, free thinkers, multicultural

I bet while reading that list you automatically tried to place yourself within one group. Or you might have even subconsciously debated between two of the groups and where you saw yourself fitting. It may not be the perfect description of you, whichever group you chose, but it sure seems a lot more meaningful than only checking one or two boxes for your race. Psychographics are where the future in advertising and marketing is headed. On the outside a consumer may be one thing, but on the inside their likes and preferences may be completely removed from the stereotypical. You could be a high school aged girl, like reggaeton music, but have a secret obsession with action video games. Or be a middle-aged dad who likes to watch romantic comedies. Both of these situations are atypical to their identified demographic and instead are reached through their psychographics, taking into account what people truly like and care about.

No matter what product or service is sold, advertisers need to perform their due diligence, understand where the majority of the people they are trying to reach land on this matrix, and modify the message according to this insight (Tornoe 2011). Whether it’s a product or service being marketed, advertisers need to know the psychographics of where the majority of their consumers fall and use them to create more meaningful messages.

Identifying my psychographics I can now figure out more of who I am instead of struggling with how to identify my race, fluency, and culture. My parents raised me to be a proper and conservative girl and everyday I am trying to change that stereotype and be drastically more than that. I’m slowly moving from living halfway through a Spanish window and changing my labeled demographic to focusing instead on my psychographic and living in the Hispanic culture. Now it’s your turn: how can you truly reach consumers?

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