By Agustin Gonzalez, OD, FAAO, ABCMO
March 2, 2016
Let’s face it, attracting Hispanic patients to your practice will take more than having a sign that reads “Hablamos Español.” This population segment is coveted by marketers for its buying power and younger demographics. This demographic is expected to grow by 167 percent through 2050, and there is no doubt that Hispanics are present in just about every community.
Financially, most of these families are doing well. Hispanic buying power is expected to reach $1.5 trillion in the coming years, and it is a younger demographic than other population segments with 75 percent under the age of 45. When it comes to healthcare, research shows that this market segment is under-served, and the same can be said when it comes to vision care. To attract the Latino market, we must look at who these individuals are, and understand how to attract them.
First we must understand that the terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” encompass very diverse groups of people. In the southwestern U.S., this community is primarily Mexican, but Hispanics also include people from the Caribbean such as Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Dominicans, as well as Salvadorians and Costa Ricans from Central America and Chileans and Argentinians from South America. Just as English speakers can be found in South Africa and Australia, we must recognize and understand that each of these groups have subtle, but different, social characteristics and cultural attitudes. This subtlety must also be considered when developing a marketing plan targeting a broad Hispanic audience.
Employ Spanish-Speaking, Hispanic Individuals
Employing staff that can represent the Hispanic community you want to serve, and can identify and understand this community, while effortlessly switching between languages, might be your biggest introduction to this community.
Provide Bilingual Communication & Educational Materials
Welcoming the Hispanic business requires that the receptionist answering the phone speak enough Spanish to converse with Spanish-speaking callers, and that waiting room literature and patient education material all be available in Spanish, as well. Translating communication and office material into Spanish is a good start, but remember that the message will be more effective if it also speaks to Hispanic cultural values.
Prepare for Many to Accompany Hispanic Patients
Hispanics are social in nature, and most marketing surveys indicate that a high percentage of Hispanics indicate they trust a friend or family member for a recommendation when choosing a health care provider. A second thing in common to all Hispanic cultures is the heavy emphasis on family and community. Shifting your message from an individual-centric to a community-centric message will enable you to make a connection.
Understanding that coming to see you is a family affair will help you create opportunities for multiple appointments, and your message will get disseminated to extended family and friends.
Create Hispanic-Focused Referral Program
Creating a referral program with promotional items, such as refrigerator magnets and business cards with your message in Spanish, is an inexpensive way to share your message and deliver care to this population. More elaborate marketing plans could include Hispanic-oriented web sites, brochures and reminder postcards, all in Spanish.
Are you working to learn more about your community’s Hispanic population? What changes, or additions to your practice, are you making to better serve this growing population?