Marketing Mass Tort Cases to Hispanics

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One of the reasons that it’s so hard to interest Hispanics in joining a class action lawsuit is their cultural sense of destiny -- that suffering is a natural parts of life, and that if a person was harmed by a drug side effect or dangerous equipment, it was their fate.

This point was one of many Hispanic marketing insights offered by Leslie Inzunza, a bilingual and bicultural expert in New York.

“Culture is a shared system of beliefs and behaviors passed from one generation to the next,” she says. “Latinos don’t respond the same way as other consumers, because their culture adds another layer of complexity. What makes ethnic marketing so tough is they swim in different waters.”

For example, Latinos in general are risk-averse, and shy away from being the first to try something they view as uncertain. There is a perception that any lawsuit involves risk and this keeps them from filing a claim or joining a class action.

Best ways to get through to Hispanics

To overcome this culture bias, Inzunza, speaking on an HB Litigation webinar, said the solution is to demonstrate that there are people in their group who have gone before them. For example, a website or ad can feature quotes from Latinos who have filed a claim.

The Hispanic market with 54 million people in the US is too big to ignore. Only half of them are foreign-born and many are citizens -- but they view the world from three cultural vantage points:

  • Learners are recent arrivals, and includes elderly people who don’t care to learn English, and remain learners for years. Only ⅕ of Hispanics are new immigrants.
  • Straddlers are bilingual and bicultural, and are often referred to as “New Latinos.” Learners and straddlers have little or no experience with the US legal system.
  • Navigators are more sophisticated, speak English, and are further away from their roots but still have a Hispanic cultural practice. “By appealing to their Hispanicism, you get their attention,” she said. Latinos have a pejorative word for them: Americanizar, or Americanized.

Messaging must take into account how acculturated a lawyer’s target market is.

Latinos are tech-savvy and early adopters. They love to use smart phones to text, watch videos, play games and send social media updates. Inzunza said that Facebook and blogs are a good way to reach Latinos. One exception is that Hispanics are less likely to use email, so broadcast emails are not effective for them.

In every situation, Hispanic culture will affect how a marketing message is received:

  • Mistrust of institutions: They are leery of lawyers and marketers. Their culture remembers being betrayed by governments and banks.
  • Different perception of time: They are naturally focused on the present and are not attracted by something with a deferred benefit, like litigation. “What they’re working on now is their priority,” she said.
  • Interdependence: In Latino culture, the needs of a group take priority over the needs of an individual. It’s a cliché that Hispanics are more family oriented, which is why many ads depict a smiling family.
  • Lowest health literacy: As a result they are unlikely to connect an injury to the harm that caused it.
  • Not a monolith: Each of more than 20 Spanish-speaking nations has its own culture.
  • Slower pace of processing information: Hispanics will not respond to calls to action to “Act Now!” A headline or a short TV ad will not get the message across. Latinos are accustomed to a slower processing of information that emphasizes verifying information within their group.

What works in Hispanic Marketing?

“Hispanics are more visually oriented than the mainstream market,” she said. “To capture attention, use symbols, visual metaphors and imagery that elicits an emotional response. “But most of our mass tort ads show prescription pill bottles or professional-looking people standing around with their arms crossed.” Lawyers need to pay attention to images that reflect the Latino culture.

Mixing languages can be effective. Miami radio shows will often sprinkle in English words or make a reference to American Pop culture.

Slowing down from the American speed of messaging is important. As a rule Latinos are more deliberative and do not respond to immediate calls-to-action like “Act Now!” Long-form media like books, documentaries and poetry appeal to Latinos. This is why TV and radio are not effective, according to Inzunza. Long-form messages and novellas (short stories) will be well received.

In contrast, social media messages, text messages and mobile advertising can be effective in reaching Latinos, because as a group they spend so much time with their smart phones.

Hyper-targeting always makes sense. In the Gulf region, for example, marketers reach people who came from northern Mexico (Norteños) by playing music that is popular in the states of Sonora, Chihuahua and Coahuila.

“You must use the right phrase that speaks directly to the beliefs that prevent them from seeking justice. In America, our destiny includes legal recourse. That is the message that you need to get to Latinos,” she said.

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