Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Jim Estrada's Tipping Point: Investing in the Hispanic Market

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Jim Estrada's Tipping Point: Investing in the Hispanic Market

Article excerpt

Hispanic or Latino? Habanero or Jalapeno? Mariachi or Merengue? Understanding the cultural nuances of U.S. Hispanics affects the success of your communication efforts in the Latino community.. .Don't get burned." This is the opening statement on the home page of the Estrada Communications Group website owned by Jim Estrada.

The message is clear: knowing a Latino community and its cultural relevance can translate to corporate profit. However, can a Latino community profit from corporate marketing campaigns?

For more than 30 years, Estrada, a marketing strategist and communications expert, has lived, breathed, promoted, developed and counseled corporations on how to relate to the Hispanic market. He has also tried to educate Latinos to their own power, pride in what they bring to the economic table - and the need to recognize their increasing cultural influence on mainstream society. Effecting change and awareness in media outlets is also important.

"We're at a tipping point," explains Estrada. "There's a misconception that we're not part of the mainstream society. People still refuse to see Latinos as major players in this country, not only in private and public sectors, but also among ourselves. Every two to three years, there's a great turn of events and right now, there's a cultural revolution."

The cultural revolution revolves around Latinos. In a time when Mexican is the most popular ethnic food in America, tortillas outsell bread, and salsa outsells ketchup, outreach to the Hispanic market is absolutely necessary, says Estrada. The Hispanic community is both the target and the catalyst for unparalleled economic growth. Yet the Latino consumer remains untapped and misunderstood because of prevailing stereotypical images projected by media.

Only 10 percent of the Fortune 1000 companies understand the need for diversity and a need of Latino inclusion in the workforce, marketing, employment, governance, boards of directorship, and consumer interaction, says Estrada. "It's more than understanding the community and its language; you have to understand its culture, its values, its aspirations, and its dreams."

Estrada believes a public relations campaign is necessary to inform non-Latinos and Latinos of Latino contributions to the growth of this country. Estrada cites numbers: a 52 million population, the largest student enrollment in education, a third of the population in both California and Texas, 70 percent involved in the workforce (highest as an ethnic group), and 50,000 Latinos who turn 18 every month and become eligible to vote.

Yet that's not the image portrayed by the media. A former San Diego-based news reporter and television anchor in the 1970s, Estrada learned early on in his career that there was a great divide in what the media choose to cover. "They used to tell me in the TV business, 'We can't afford to feature too many Latinos on general market television because our white viewers will change the channel,' which translated to - we can't afford to lose our advertisers."

That is not true today, he says.

According to Estrada's book, The ABCs and Ñ of Americas Cultural Revolution: A Primer on the Growing Influence ofHispanics, Latinos and mestizo in the USA, retailers, marketers, and non-profit organizations have their eye on the potential consumer, social, and political power of the Latino community, which has an annual purchasing power of approximately $1 trillion.

Having worked as a community activist, television news reporter, public and corporate communications executive-as well as marketing consultant to Fortune 500 corporations and nonprofits-Estrada's mission has been to bring the Latino community to a company's attention - where both sides can win.

Cultural relevance can start with knowledge of labels, the media, education, consumer power and traditional values. "Then we'd have a working knowledge of what this ethnic market is doing across the board in business, education, politics, health, and nonprofits. …

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