Baseball, Hispanic Marketing and Acculturation

Are you attending any little league games this spring or summer? Is that part of your cultural experience or not? We can talk about culture, language, attitudes and behaviors for a few minutes here. Baseball, or Little League, as shown here, is a family experience and commonplace in many cultures.
baseball gameLatinos in the U.S. are one of the most rapidly expanding customer segments with more than a trillion dollars in purchasing power and growing almost ten times faster than the rest of the population (US Census 2010). Latinos are expected to become one third of the people living in the U.S. around mid-century, and about half of the California residents by that date (Berkowitz, Bao & Allaway, 2005). Acculturation is the process of embracing the culture of a host nation while keeping the culture and values of the country of origin, and it has many intricacies since it depends on the personal attitude of the individual, how long they have lived in the host country, as well as the level of interaction at work and within the local community. If companies want to effectively engage the Latino ethnic group and make them loyal customers, they have to understand the various levels of acculturation, and consider using the adequate message that respects their culture and country of origin, as well as the suitable language (Spanish or English or both) to reach their goal.

Acculturation is a process of embracing the host’s country culture, including language, attitudes and behaviors. (Kim, Laroche & Joy, 1990). In other words, it is the integration of the individual’s culture with the one of the host country. Latinos come from a wide variety of countries, predominantly Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico, hence they bring those cultural values and merge them with those of the host country. Acculturation is a very complex process that is difficult to understand, and even more important, to use it to create more effective marketing programs is a challenge. Acculturation is different for each person based on their attitudes to embrace the local culture, but at the same time keep their own. Other factors include the education level and the stage in the life cycle. Isabel Valdés (2000) affirms that the process of acculturation takes places at all levels of the social interaction and further highlights the importance of understanding its dynamics and the way these individuals interact, communicate and work, for companies to successfully reach this segment. It is essential for a successful marketing campaign to be in tune with their culture at all message levels: symbolic, explicit, visual and subliminal. For this reason, advertisers who want to reach Latinos should consider the complete range of acculturation, and its ever changing dynamics. Furthermore, globalization has driven this process further based on new telecommunications technologies, (i.e., the Internet, wireless communications, satellite TV, mobile devices such as iPhone® and Android® based platforms) which accelerates getting ideas and attitudes for the person living in the host nation. Some say that these same platforms such as Facebook and Twitter also help immigrants to stay in touch with their family and friends in their country of origin, sort of a “reverse acculturation” process. We can tackle that discussion at a later time.
For now, let’s just enjoy the freedom to “Play Ball”!

Dr. Ramon Corona and Dr. Mary Beth McCabe, 2015