Getting Latinos to sign up for health insurance is critical to the success of the Affordable Care Act. So far, efforts to get Hispanics to enroll have fallen flat. The missteps blamed for this failure provide an opportunity to review many of the lessons that experienced multi-cultural marketers learned long ago.

On top of problems with the website and the lack of materials in Spanish, other issues include poor translations and a paucity of applications and background material both in-language and in-culture. Also cited is the lack of understanding about the issues that are important to Hispanics, including their mistrust of government related to immigration issues. The message emphasizing that you can get coverage even if you have a pre-existing condition fell on deaf ears for many Hispanics. Since many never had health insurance – or applied for it – this is not a problem that they relate to.

Clearly, the government did its research but still failed to implement a compelling campaign to draw in Hispanics.

The Hispanic market is complex and heterogeneous, requiring finesse to navigate successfully. A strategic plan based on a solid understanding of the issues, delivered consistently though trusted sources, has proven to efficiently and effectively build lasting and meaningful relationships with Hispanic audiences. For example, while recent immigrants might feel most comfortable conversing in Spanish, subsequent generations often prefer English while still maintaining bilingual proficiency and strong cultural ties to their ethnic roots. In fact, some Hispanics are actually offended when Spanish is assumed as the language of choice or necessity. With Hispanic income levels rising, there are also significant trust issues that must be effectively addressed with this historically underserved audience. A program that understands the myriad of issues and successfully addresses them can increase market share for companies in a wide range of industries.

As with the population in general, Hispanic millennials, whether first or second generation Americans, are sophisticated buyers, attuned to using online resources to research products and sharing purchasing information through social media. Hispanic millennials have a higher acceptance of mobile tools than the overall population, embrace both languages and are heavy users of text messaging.

Another important consideration in a strategy to reach Hispanics is the role of Latinas. Traditionally, women are the caregivers within families and the dominant drivers in household consumption choices and decisions regarding healthcare. Increasingly, they are the breadwinners for Hispanic families. Nielsen data indicates Latinas want more online content in Spanish to help guide important buying decisions.

These are just a few examples of the complexity of the market that must be taken into consideration when developing a Hispanic marketing plan.

In developing a plan to build strong ties with the Hispanic community, Cook + Schmid recommends starting with solid research to inform the development of an integrated strategy. A strategic plan should define a focus for the campaign emphasizes your product’s strengths and unique offerings, while addressing the issues that matter most to Hispanics.

By showing genuine concern for and understanding of the Hispanic community and investing in building a long-term relationship over time, marketers can create strong ties and brand loyalty with this growing market and increasingly influential segment. While competition is fierce, we believe there is an exciting opportunity to grow market share in the Hispanic community.

Website for Covered CA hispanic version