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  • Isabel Aneyba

Hire a Cultural Expert to best understand Biculturals

Updated: Jun 14, 2019


Biculturals are the key Hispanic segment for many companies. This because they are the largest segment (55% of the US Hispanic market) and they are a growing segment (since the US Hispanic market growth is driven by birth and no longer by immigration).

Who are the Biculturals? The Biculturals speak both languages and think and behave in both cultures: American and Latino. They choose when to respond in one culture and when in another. Some were born in a Latino country (mostly in Mexico) and some in the US.

Is English the best language to communicate with Biculturals to maximize insights?Biculturals have several levels of fluency in Spanish and English. If they are fully bilingual, the category discussed will influence the language that they choose to use. Some clients are shocked by this response, because they feel if Biculturals speak English and were born in the US, then why not interview them in English and save interpretation costs? I tell them that language is not just a filter but an influencer of thinking and experiencing another culture. If the category studied has rituals and emotions acquired in Spanish it is better to interview them in Spanish. If the category has rituals and emotions acquired in English, we interview them in English.

Most Bicultural Latinos were born in Spanish speaking homes, so they learn to eat and speak in Spanish. If the category studied is cooking and grocery shopping, guess which language is more effective for recalling these emotions and experiences? Spanish. Spanish will also be more effective for exploring family, love, family roles, and relationships. During ethnographic interviews about grocery shopping and meal preparation, a Bicultural Millennial couple (Bi-Llennials) felt most comfortable sharing their love for their favorite meals and for their family members in Spanish. Spanish allowed them to connect with their emotions and confirm that in the kitchen they felt Hispanic.

How to influence Biculturals? To influence Biculturals, we should understand the role a product plays in their rituals and values. For example, a key Latino value is Social Identity. Latinos get their sense of self by the group they belong to. This is different than the Anglo culture were individuals prefer to be identified as unique. That is why Latinos organize celebrations like weekend gatherings, birthdays, graduations, baptisms, first communions, coming-of-age “quinceañera” parties, and weddings. That’s why the hosts and the guests pay close attention to the food they prepare or buy and its’ appearance. They want to meet the expectations of their family and friends and create a sense of belonging. A Tres leches cake should taste like a cake they crave to help them feel Hispanic. 

Marketing is cultural. When you are working on product development for Biculturals, it is important to understand them and truly connect with them on an emotional level. You need an expert in that culture that speaks the same language and understands the groups’ beliefs that influence their purchasing behavior. I hope that in your next study, you consider COMARKA to team up with your company to connect with Latinos and generate growth. COMARKA empowers marketers to develop fruitful emotional connections with their customers and generate growth.

Want to start a conversation? Contact me at: ianeyba@comarka.com and (512) 299-2077

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