Despite Growing Social Media Activity, U.S. Latinos Ignored by Big Brands

Seventy-eight percent of Fortune 1000 companies are not employing social media sites to market to Latinos, according to survey results released yesterday by Hispanics-focused agency Orci. Hector Orci, co-founder of the Los Angeles-based firm, said some advertisers “are leaving money on the table” while stating that 80 percent of Hispanics use social sites and collectively total $1 trillion in buying power.

Orci pointed to the Spanish-language capabilities of Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace as potential messaging opportunities gone amiss. From his work for companies like Honda and Jack in the Box, he suggested that developing dialogue between a brand and Latinos on social sites is an excellent means to capturing some of the demo’s market share.

“What we have found is Latinos are extremely social,” Orci said. “So they are very eager to communicate with whoever wants to communicate with them.”

Of the companies utilizing social media to reach Hispanics, the survey found Facebook was the preferred site to focus efforts upon, with Twitter coming in a close second.

Orci surveyed 9,300 senior marketing and advertising executives from Fortune 1000 brands in consumer and business-to-business verticals. Fifty-one percent of the respondents indicated they do no marketing at all towards the Hispanic demo, which is expected to total 50 million – or 15 percent of the U.S. population – in the 2010 Census, according to the agency’s prepared release.

Depending on the individual product categories, between 78 and 89 percent of the respondents said they believe Hispanics will dramatically impact the following areas in the next five years: food, fashion, beauty, entertainment, and technology/communications.

Still, Orci said the survey data showed that the biggest advertisers were among those targeting Latinos the least. “About 50 of the Fortune 500 firms are not marketing to Latinos at all, via cyberspace, TV, or radio,” he said.

As the survey results clearly indicate, the practice of online marketing to Hispanics seems to be at a nascent-but-curious stage. Dedicated efforts by big-budgeted companies like Ford and the National Football League last year didn’t exactly go gangbusters, seeing only decent-to-somewhat-encouraging results.

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