Do Brands Need a 'Sombrero' to Reach Hispanics?

06/10/2015 05:26 pm ET | Updated Jun 10, 2016

I recently cringed when I read that CVS, a pharmacy, we all know and love, was testing "CVS/Pharmacy y más" to attract more Hispanic shoppers to its stores in Miami. Yes, in Miami, where everyone and their mother speaks Spanish or Spanglish.

Does CVS really need to create a separate brand to serve the Hispanic population in Miami? Isn't "CVS/pharmacy y más," really a Navarros pharmacy in South Florida? CVS purchased Navarros and I'm sure there are some great insights and synergies they can realize.

I get it. Brands want to capitalize on the growing Hispanic population. And, in this case, CVS is luring Hispanics with cafecito and conversación, and will have bilingual employees. But doesn't almost every retail store, hotel or restaurant have a bilingual staff? Miami is the gateway to Latin America, and the only city in the country where stores have to put up signs "We Speak English."

I'm part of this target demographic. And, I wonder if we are that different from the rest of America that we need special stores designed with us in mind. Yes, stores do need to offer some of the brands that are somewhat nostalgic and are the ones our moms and abuelas grew up with. And it's nice to find them outside of bodega in Washington Heights.

So will these stores have tons of Latino products such as different types of Vicks VapoRub that I can't find at the regular CVS? For Dominicans, Vicks VapoRub is like Windex in My Big Fat Greek Wedding -- it cures EVERYTHING.

Every product or service does not need to turn "Latino" to appeal to this market.

Julio Varelo said it best in a NBC Latino opinion piece a few years ago, "Instead of trying to reflect a new and honest perspective of the bilingual-bicultural individual, we are fast becoming a Barrio Demographic."

The numbers for the Hispanic population are quite sexy and tantalizing and brands want a piece of this market. Approximately 54 million strong and growing with an impressive purchasing power of $1.5 trillion. Hispanics are younger, at the prime age to buy homes, cars and other large ticket items. The reality is we are playing catch up with the rest of the population.

While I think there is no magic bullet in terms of how to market to Hispanics, there are cultural nuisances that brands need to take into consideration when developing their strategies. The Hispanic community does not want to be sold to, we want to be courted, and brands should understand the culture and design effective campaigns.

The key to Hispanic marketing, according to Glen Llopis understanding "the ingredients that define the recipe of success."

Too often, brands think that to reach the Hispanic population by simply translating ads and websites into Spanish. The reality is, we are a very diverse and bilingual group. Hispanic marketing doesn't automatically mean Spanish, since the majority of us are more acculturated, but it does mean that brands need to be culturally relevant.