May 12, 2011

As we move into a world of complete interconnection – both technologically and culturally – we must realize that our job as effective communicators has evolved along with it. Making the transition from a regional to a global perspective means that we no longer see pockets of differentiated and isolated audiences.

People are now reached by many global influences via television, the Internet, and other countless technology outlets. Pair this information overload with easy international mobility and we end up with a truly global audience.

With the new national census that occurred last year, the communications industry now has a renewed ability to understand the current national market and identify demographic trends. One of the most important and visible demographic trends taking place in the United States currently is the surge in the Hispanic population. Not only are their numbers growing, but also is their influence.

According to the Pew Hispanic Research Center, the Hispanic population accounted for 56% of the nation’s growth from 2000 to 2010. This is a tremendous percentage that indicates this demographic’s rise to visibility on the national stage. When a specific population or demographic is so prevalent in any national stage, they begin to seriously influence a country’s economy and commercial sector. That is why in the last few years, companies in all industries have begun to regard Hispanics and Latinos as a prime market for their products and services. Not only have their numbers increased, but – most importantly – so has their purchasing power.

It is estimated that Hispanics’ purchasing power reached $1 trillion in 2010. With this in mind, the commercial sector has started to tailor its message to this audience.

But how do we go about doing this? Just knowing the language won’t get us very far. Sure, knowing a little Spanish can potentially help us get the most basic message across, but it won’t influence buying decisions in the least. Understanding how to communicate cross-culturally is a skill that will prove to be more and more important as integration keeps progressing on a global scale.

In order to become the effective cultural communicators that we want to be, not only do we need to overcome the language gap, but we must also understand that within the broad “Hispanic” umbrella there are countless cultural differences. The way a Chilean lives and what he views as important in his life is very different than the way a Guatemalan lives and what she views as important in her life. The music that a Colombian appreciates is very different from the music to which a Paraguayan listens. Let’s not even begin to discuss culinary differences across borders.

All this serves to show that effective communication must firstly be based on understanding and perspective. In so doing, we will reach an audience that is as diverse as it is important, and this will help in the effort of creating a more integrated society.