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By Glenn Llopis, Contributor , Forbes

Entrepreneurs and corporate executives across America are awakening to the importance of Hispanic consumers and their growing purchasing power, estimated to reach $1.5 trillion dollars by 2015. Though brands still remain cautious in their approach, they are beginning to realize that if they don’t act now, they may never get a second chance. The companies that are making a serious commitment to the Hispanic market have already realized that more success will come to those who support specific Hispanic business models targeting the Hispanic consumer.

Just ask Antonio Swad, the Italian-Lebanese immigrant who founded the $40 million Pizza Patrón. Headquartered in Dallas, TX, Pizza Patrón has built an extremely loyal following with first and second generation Hispanics by satisfying the culturally relevant needs of these consumers. Mr. Swad may not be Hispanic, but he has demonstrated that culture is the new universal language in America.

Yes, culture is quickly becoming the new universal language in America. Cultural intelligence must replace the misguided notion that simply translating English copy into someone’s native language is all you need to do to reach them. Embracing cultural sensitivity has become critically important to the design of new business models, leadership development and the relationships that brands earn with their consumers. It is not only ethical and the right thing to do; it’s the “must-do” to be domestically and globally competitive. Given today’s demographic shift in America, brands can no longer afford to make guesses and assumptions about their target audiences.


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