The Hispanic population is projected to reach 128.8 million people by the year 2060, which would account for 30 percent of the total population of the United States. This projection is particularly meaningful when advertisers pause to consider the fact that Hispanics controlled $1.4 trillion in buying power in 2016 and are expected to control $1.8 trillion in buying power by 2021. And while the Spanish language may be the most obvious unifying characteristic of the Hispanic Market, differentiation must be made for demographic, cultural, geographic, and linguistic nuances—after all, what resonates with tech-savvy Mexican-American millennials in Los Angeles may not strike a chord with conservative Cuban grandmas in Miami.
Nevertheless, Nielsen considers the target Latino market to be “ambicultural,” with the ability to embrace two languages and cultures. Many companies have tried to tap into this market; sidestepping landmines by not simply translating messaging, but instead ‘transcreating’ successful marketing campaigns for new audiences. But what is transcreation and why is this hybrid medium so effective—especially in the realm of marketing?
Transcreation often involves a creative transfer, taking a brand’s original marketing message that was created for a predominantly white, middle class audience and informing it with the culture and values of another group of consumers. Fundamentally, transcreation is used to bring the same message alive, from one culture to another rather than simply translating the message, word by word, from one language to another. Translation is perfectly fine for informative text, but when text is designed to trigger an action from the reader, transcreation is simply a better fit.
It does not matter how masterfully a company translates its marketing materials—they can still send the wrong message to target audiences like Hispanics, especially if that message doesn’t account for that target audience’s culture and specific set of priorities.
A winning example of transcreational marketing that connects with Hispanic consumers in a meaningful and original way is the Japanese carmaker Toyota. Toyota taps into the strong family-oriented ethos of the Hispanic market with its “Más Que Un Auto” (More Than a Car) campaign, which features happy car owners affixing a personalized nameplate onto their cars. The campaign plays with the idea that people give their vehicles names that reflect their car’s personal attributes or characteristics. In the company’s television spot, one satisfied driver names his beat-up old Toyota, “El Milagroso” (The Miraculous), because it’s still running after so many years.
Ultimately, transcreation gives companies maximum freedom to exercise their creativity and optimize their messaging. Reaching beyond literal translation, transcreation allows marketers to speak with a consistent voice that uses culture to reach a diverse consumer base.