By Rosemary Guzman Hook

When Juan Tornoe of Cultural Strategies and author of the blog, Hispanic Trending, spoke to the Freelance Austin group at the September meeting, I had not expected my inner Latina to emerge. But come forth she did in her own lame Latina kind of way as Mr. Tornoe spoke of the bi-cultural life that many Hispanics are living in the U.S. today. Juan cautioned against grouping all Hispanics into one large market or designing marketing efforts that would have only one message. The term “Hispanic” itself is a marketing term created up by the U.S. Census Bureau as a means to count individuals in a household. But err on the side of assuming Hispanic equals Mexican and you could potentially offend and or leave out entire populations under the Hispanic umbrella.

Are you A Lame Latina?

According to Tornoe, tortillas may outsell white bread, but that doesn’t mean a tortilla or salsa or even a loving abuelita should make its way into every advertisement meant to target this growing, every changing market. Tornoe mentioned that the Latino to watch out for is actually the Latina, the emerging entrepreneurial, leading-the-way and running-the-household female of the Latino household and businesses. If you’re going to target anyone, market to the buying power of the Latina.

As I listened to Tornoe, I chuckled at some of the typical, stereotype categories he covered, e.g. we all drink tequila 24×7; we all own white pick-up trucks. But when it came down to the quasi-stereotypes that exist because they are mostly true, I squirmed a little. Hispanics, Tornoe said, tend to put family first. Myself, I am childless and I love it. Hispanics: 1, Lame Latina: 0.

Tornoe also said that Hispanics are a little more socially flexible than their Anglo counterparts. I am selectively social and I tend to operate in a structured flexibility kind of way. Hispanics: .5, Lame Latina: .5

Finally, Tornoe emphasized that the generation of the Hispanic (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) in the U.S. makes a difference to the strength of their Latino-ness. In essence, a Hispanic could be connected to their “Latino-ness” all day long via social media, music, TV, and other online technology. I sporadically connect when I’m feeling more Latina than normal. Just this morning, I popped in a CD with the oldie but goodie, “Volver, Volver.” Google the tune and you’ll hear this classic Mexican song, one that my parents loved and which I wanted to hear as I contemplated my lost youth (I turned 47 this month). Hispanics: 1, Lame Latina: 1

I could continue scoring, but the reality is that I, like many people, Hispanic or non-Hispanic, live among multiple groups, societies, flowing in and out as our chameleon-selves desire. Does this make us more or less part of a group? Am I a lame Latina because I’m not touchy feely like many Hispanics might be? (If you encounter a kissy-huggy Hispanic, Tornoe said to take it in stride and go with the flow.)

Or, am I a representation of the habits and cultural of the average, 3rd generation Latina? I have never assimilated nor acculturated except when I sometimes assimilate and sometimes acculturate. There is not only one market demographic that I fit into, and there is not only one message that will move me to take action on a product or service. Tornoe was right. Resist the urge to develop only one Hispanic message for this overly diverse market group. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover your own lame Latina.

 Photo uploaded to Flickr from Creative Commons.