According to the U.S. Census, the Hispanic population is projected to increase from 55 million in 2014 to 119 million in 2060, an increase of 115 percent. While over 60 percent of Hispanics in the U.S. identify as Mexican, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Salvadorans, and Dominicans, other Latino populations also have a strong presence in this country.
The Migration Policy Institute reports more than 11.7 million Mexican immigrants resided in the United States in 2014- that’s more than a quarter of all U.S. immigrants. This current segment of the population represents millions of newcomers to the U.S. health system. Hispanics are an important consumer group and, as long as marketers are willing to take the time to get to know them, represent a growing opportunity for the healthcare industry.
Until recently, most healthcare organizations’ marketing efforts toward this segment has been as one-dimensional as translating existing healthcare marketing collateral to Spanish and adding images of Hispanic models to campaign ads. While this may be the fastest and least expensive way to approach this growing need, it is not likely to build long-lasting connections with Hispanics, or any other minority group for that matter.
The unique requirements of each population go much deeper than language and happy, shiny faces on a billboard. A message developed with a non-Hispanic audience in mind may not translate or resonate with the Hispanic market just because it is now in Spanish. Healthcare marketers must take into account the role that culture plays in the decision-making process. Here are some items to keep in mind when developing your outreach strategy:
- Many Hispanics are unfamiliar and uneasy with the American healthcare. They may be used to or have expectations of a different type of relationship with their doctor and often will take longer to become comfortable with a physician.
- Hispanics tend to have a strong sense of privacy and individual pride that makes it more challenging to get them to engage with the healthcare system or raise concerns with their physician.
- Health insurance may not be their traditional way to access and medical services. Immigrants from Mexico and Latin America are more accustomed to a government-run healthcare system.
- Hispanics are more accepting of non-Western medicine. Many rely on home remedies, according to the Latino Health Care Engagement Project. This cultural tendency to use non-traditional health solutions also makes Hispanics more cost-conscious when it comes to healthcare. They are more comfortable with alternative and lower cost providers of healthcare information, such as their local pharmacist. Over a quarter of Hispanics age 35-64 view pharmacists as most trusted source of health-related information or advice.
- Hispanic families are often larger families than the average American family, bringing more patients into the system for longer-term care. Households with children can be a tremendous outreach opportunity for the OB-GYN and pediatric practices in your organization.
- Hispanics are more likely to request products and services by name when they are advertised to in culturally relevant ways. Once a company is deemed trustworthy, they can be highly brand loyal. And when they do finally connect with a physician, they are not likely to question their expertise.
Healthcare marketers must understand cultural factors that may influence Hispanics’ decision-making to ensure their messages are correctly received. In other words, a message developed with a non-Hispanic audience in mind will not necessary resonate with a Hispanic just because it is in Spanish.