Multicultural Marketing

 Debbi Conrad  |    July 27, 2007

Marketing may require different techniques and commitments when the goal is to reach Hispanic or Hmong consumers in Wisconsin.

Marketing to Hispanic consumers 

Language is a critical consideration, so it is prudent to recruit bilingual (Spanish and English) office staff or agents who can greet Spanish-speaking consumers visiting the office and make them feel more at home.

Marketing in Spanish will be far more effective than marketing in English. The best way to attract business is by word of mouth; Hispanics value personal relations and prefer to do business with people they know or someone recommended by an acquaintance. Television is a relatively effective ad medium for reaching a Spanish-speaking population ‚ÄĒ both Spanish language stations and English television ‚ÄĒ and radio is also effective. Print advertising is less effective because Hispanic cultures tend to be more verbal and less drawn to print media. Younger generations, on the other hand, are proficient with the Internet, so that outlet should not be neglected.

To build the personal relationship Hispanics prefer, be prepared to take them in your car, give your personal phone numbers, inquire about their family and remember what they told you the last time you met. Conversation is conducted in close proximity ‚ÄĒ up close and personal.

Give Hispanic clients and customers intelligent and personalized advice. Having contact information for Spanish-speaking home-buying and credit counselors may be very helpful because some Hispanics, particularly those from older generations, may believe that good credit means never using credit cards and paying for everything in cash. They also may have money that is not in a bank, which makes it difficult for lenders to assess their financial capability.

Marketing to Hmong consumers 

Once again language is crucial ‚ÄĒ seek office staff, agents or interpreters who are bilingual in a Hmong dialect.

Any marketing efforts in the Hmong language may be best focused on verbal media because Hmong education traditionally is verbal. The Hmong language was not written down until the early 1950s when missionaries designed a Hmong alphabet.

It may be beneficial to visit with local Hmong community groups and volunteer to work in the community garden or on other projects valued by the local Hmong community; try to build personal relationships and trust. Learn a few polite phrases in the Hmong language to demonstrate your interest and respect. ‚ÄúHello‚ÄĚ is ‚ÄúNyob zoo‚ÄĚ; pronounced ‚ÄúNyah zhong‚ÄĚ. ‚ÄúWhat‚Äôs your name?‚ÄĚ is ‚ÄúKoj lub npe hu li cas?‚ÄĚ; pronounced ‚ÄúGaw loo bay hoo lee jah.‚ÄĚ

While Hmong have close, extended family relationships and are happy and hospitable, their demeanor is formal and reserved. The Hmong traditionally do not shake hands, and shaking hands with a male may embarrass a Hmong female. Hmong individuals may look down or away from you during conversation because direct eye contact is considered to be rude and inappropriate.

Hmong homebuyers may benefit from home-buying education and financial literacy classes presented in a language or cultural manner that they can readily understand because they are often unfamiliar with the home-buying process and may have unverifiable income and no credit history.

REALTOR¬ģ practice tips¬†

Respect individuality 

Treat each person as an individual. General guidance about cultures and customs will certainly not apply to everyone.

Avoid strategies that target less than the whole market 

Do not target an ad toward only one segment of the community or use only small circulation publications that are designed primarily for certain ethnic groups. Fair housing law requires that you also advertise to the community at large.

Avoid steering 

Resist the urge to steer buyers to particular neighborhoods ‚ÄĒ this is illegal! Let the buyers decide for themselves what properties they are interested in.

Cultural diversity resource page 

For additional information about Hispanic, Southeast Asian and other cultures, visit This resource page features information regarding the business practices, mannerisms, languages and customs of people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

Debbi Conrad is Director of Legal Affairs for the WRA.

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