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Yes, Language Does Matter When Engaging “Bilennials”

Jun 23, 2014

As marketers we are all focused on winning with millennials; it’s crucial to our present and future growth. And to win, our strategies must include Hispanics because they makeup 20% of this cohort. But when it comes to creating a winning execution, many of us aren’t sure how to tackle an important fundamental question: “What language should I use in my advertising to Hispanic millennials?” It’s no secret that the majority of Hispanic millennials were born here in the U.S. and a whopping 38% are bilingual, so there is genuine confusion about what messaging will engage them and influence their purchase decisions. Just Google “reaching Hispanic millennials” and you’re confronted with 112,000 results—articles from industry publications, sales pitches from media companies, endless webinars on the topic and dozens of conferences featuring panel discussions. It’s overwhelming in quantity and yet somehow yields an underwhelming amount of reliable research and quantifiable proof. We at Univision found this question of language of particular importance for our partners, and joined Nielsen and Starcom Mediavest Group’s Multicultural division to find some concrete answers.

227 bilingual Hispanics between the age of 21 and 34 let us “pick their brains” using Nielsen’s proprietary consumer neuroscience technology. Our study measured the brainwaves of these consumers while watching identical (or almost identical) TV advertisements that aired in both English, and Spanish, as well as ads in “Spanglish”, in combination with either Spanish or English programming. By doing this we were able to discover subconscious reactions and measure emotional engagement, attention, memory activation, action intent and ultimately come up with an overall effectiveness score for each ad.

What we learned is that language, along with context, does matter. Simply put, of all four ads that were tested, not a single English execution was more neurologically effective than the Spanish version. In fact, Spanish-language drove crucial components of ad effectiveness—emotional engagement and memory activation—more successfully than the use of English.

I invite you to dig into the detailed findings and begin to develop your own plan for engaging “Bilennials”.

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