By Jose Vila

I go to my fair share of conferences, from digital marketing to advertising to PR to social media and direct marketing. For some reason, the stars aligned this April, and I found myself speaking and attending three different conferences on Hispanic marketing:

Attending three different conferences, all on the U.S. Hispanic market, but each with its unique perspective, has revealed some trends I’m seeing in the always-fluid Hispanic market. Here’s a breakdown of what I noticed.

First, there was Hispanicize 2013 in Miami. This event bills itself as the Hispanic version of SXSW. It is an annual showcase of Latino trendsetters across social media, journalism, marketing, film, music and digital media. With its roots in the Hispanic PR world and its growing contingent of Latino bloggers, Hispanicize had a couple of key takeaways for me:

  • I was impressed with size of the event (more than 1,000 attendees) and sheer number of Hispanic bloggers and new-media startups. What was a novelty a few years ago is turning into a real industry, and big brands are investing.
  • More Latinos are taking it upon themselves to change Hispanic media by becoming content producers – whether they are filmmakers, bloggers, YouTube publishers, or musicians.
  • The lines separating Hispanic PR firms, ad agencies and publishers / media companies are blurring.

Then there was the AHAA 2013 “Thinking Under the Influence” annual conference in Miami. Bringing a decidedly ad agency perspective, AHAA is the granddaddy of Hispanic marketing conferences, and brought together 400+ Hispanic agencies, brands, and Hispanic media professionals. AHAA always provides a great pulse on the growing Hispanic advertising business. A couple of themes stood out for me:

  • There was much talk about the “mainstreaming” of the Hispanic market. It is no longer a niche or specialty market, but now the “new mainstream.”
  • The Hispanic ad industry has fully embraced the bicultural, bilingual and even English-speaking Latino as its target.
  • There is plenty of confusion and concern about the concept of the “Total Market Approach.”

To round out my tour of Hispanic marketing conferences, I attended and spoke at the inaugural Digital Hollywood Hispanic Media Summit in Los Angeles. Digital Hollywood Hispanic – added as a track within a well-established entertainment industry conference – brought together professionals from the entertainment, advertising, tech, communications, and market research worlds. Similar themes emerged at Digital Hollywood:

  • There has definitely been a “shift in the conversation” about the Hispanic market.
  • Hollywood has historically profited greatly from the Hispanic market without paying too much attention to it. Attendance levels at the conference showed the industry is now definitely paying attention.

Putting all three conferences together, I ended up with three big takeaways:

  • There is myriad innovation taking place in Hispanic marketing – whether it’s hundreds of new bloggers, new big media platforms, or “general market” organizations reorganizing in some way to better serve the Hispanic market.
  • Everyone is focused on the “crossover” potential and opportunities inherent in the Hispanic market. This market is influencing the general market as much as it is acculturating into it.
  • Hispanic marketing is clearly an industry undergoing a seismic shift. The jury is still out on how things are going to end up.
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