April 24, 2018

By Stephen Palacios, Principal, Ahzul

Young Latina Fernanda Vazquez received her first paycheck and celebrates with her extended family in a tender moment of accomplishment in “Girl’s First Check” by Wells Fargo. Notable? Yes, as it was one of the first national ads that featured one of the biggest, yet least acknowledged, shifts occurring in the U.S. Hispanic market – the professionalization of Latinas.

 

 

In many ways, it’s easier for brands to continue down the path of the devoted mother or the treasured family meal time. But this approach is not only overly done, it’s a misrepresentation of new realities that the Wells Fargo ad captures.

Deeply engrained social norms are evolving. The call to break stereotypes is a given, but understanding Latinas’ new sources of empowerment, challenging cultural norms, balancing tradition and progress, and triumph in a time of complicated politics, is perhaps one of the most empowering women’s movements in play. Brands: there’s a monumental opportunity to drive relevance.

Redefining Long-Standing Norms.

The shift is huge, with the Latina share of the labor force participation doubling over the past 20 years. According to the Department of Labor, the Hispanic women’s labor force participation rate will surpass Non-Hispanic white women by 2024.

This important development was recently highlighted in People en Español’s 2018 Hispanic Opinion Tracker (HOT), the longest-running nationally representative study of Latinas in the market. What was uncovered? For the first time in its 20-year history, the study found:

7 out of 10 Latinas say, “I want to be seen as a well-rounded woman who is also a good mother”, vs. motherhood as the key way to self-define;
7 out of 10 Latinas also say, “My job contributes to my overall success as a person”, again emphasizing strongly the importance of career in her overall self-assessment.

Monique Manso, Publisher of People en Español comments “We have been tracking the growth and importance of work for Latinas for many years, and this year’s HOT Study reveals it has reached a tipping point for her, becoming more central to her life and identity”.

Only a few years prior, I spoke at the then-named Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA), now the Culture Marketing Council Annual Conference, where there were zero ads submitted for awards that featured professional Latinas. An analysis of the 40 most frequently run ads on Hispanic media in 2014 revealed the same absence.

This shift brings a variety of opportunities for marketers.

Ironically, 95-year-old TV icon Norman Lear has been one of the most recent to seize the shift.  Netflix’s reboot of the 1970s to early-80’s classic “One Day at a Time” now features a Latina protagonist who reflects the similar challenges that Bonnie Franklin faced over 30 years ago, as a single working mom.

Marketers looking to capture a moment in culture must lead with true understanding of the modern-day Latina. Acknowledge her strides (she is often the first to have gone to college; tensions (she still wants to play the traditional mother role); and aspirations (she is excited for the opportunity to define herself differently), and binge Seasons 1 and 2 on Netflix, because Season 3 has just been signed.

 

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