July 15, 2009

Latinas Influencing Latinas

After nearly 17 years in this country, I’ve become what marketers would refer to as “acculturated.” Yet I realize that some of the opinions I value most are those of two foreign-born Latinas who help me manage my daily life: my housekeeper and my nanny. Sonia and Ana have become my “influencers” in that they shape many of the decisions and choices I make in both my personal and professional life.

Sonia and Ana are from Guatemala. They are Spanish-dominant and overwhelmingly consume Spanish-language media. They speak English but feel more comfortable with Spanish, and family and religion continue to play an important role in their lives. Both share an incredible work ethic (something you don’t find every day in today’s professionals), a sense of humor and an innate wisdom about life in spite of the enormous challenges they have overcome to be in this country. They love me unconditionally and treat my family like their own.

I have witnessed how these women, as well as many immigrant and technically “un-acculturated” Latinas, have the ability, knowledge and experience to influence beyond their own inner circles of immediate family, relatives and comadres. In categories such as food, beverages, household products, healthcare and even fashion, estas dos mujeres have influenced me a great deal. Ana, for example, knows exactly what to buy for us at the market; she helps me stay on budget and has been savvy enough to convince me to shop more carefully to save on organic produce and other products.

Sonia now purchases many clothing items for my kids because she finds them at very affordable prices in downtown L.A. Ditto for the beautiful custom jewelry pieces that I love. And of course, home remedies! Their recommendations have led me to question what I purchase and try other brands or alternatives I can make at home.

A lot has been said lately about influencer marketing, segmentation and the growth of the acculturated Hispanic segment. More and more, emphasis is being placed by some on reaching the acculturated Latina – like me. Reaching out to women like Ana and Sonia has become “un-cool” to some marketers, or too easy or not challenging enough to others.

But yet, as some marketers are racing to deliver influencer-marketing programs, how can they ignore Ana and Sonia? I have heard some marketers claim that the more acculturated women like me are influencing women like Ana and Sonia. Could it be the other way around? Why not open ourselves to this possibility?

If you consider yourself an acculturated Latino(a), do you have examples of less acculturated Latinos influencing your choices?

Roxana Lissa is Founder and President of RL Public Relations + Marketing. She can be reached at Roxana.lissa@rlpublicrelations.com.


Anonymous said...

This is so true, Roxana. To me the most influential person in my life is mi abuelita. She's shaped many of my biggest decisions. She's the reason I'm the woman, wife, and mother than I am today. I love this post.

Daniel Marrin said...

I wonder if that might have anything to do with an underestimating by marketers of the importance of extended family ties in Hispanic families, as in Asian families and other ethnicities?

rlpublicrelations said...

I think you make a good point. On the one hand, marketers over the years have positioned "la familia" as the centerpiece of many Hispanic advertising campaigns, and this continues to happen today. And there are other marketers that do not embrace the core values that we all share (family being one of them), regardless of where we come from. We are seeing great work from marketers that are embracing real-life scenarios and more sophisticated work to talk to Latino audiences and I applaud these efforts. What I hope is that marketers don't forget or "underestimate" the influence that an un-acculturated Latina can have in the lives of other Latinas, including the more acculturated ones.

Roxana Lissa