Culture Code for Money: The Insider’s Guide

Hispanics represent over $1 trillion in household disposable income. It’s time to understand their culture code for Money. This article covers: the definition of culture codes and biculturalism; the code for money for American, Latin American and Hispanic American markets, its affect on marketing to financial and banking industry products; and a suggested segmentation of the U.S. Hispanic market for this particular industry.

Culture Code for Money - The Insider’s Guide

Culture Code for Money – The Insider’s Guide

Besides their sheer numbers and outstanding growth, the Hispanics’ over $1 trillion in household disposable income make them extremely appealing to Financial institutions. 14.5% of U.S. Hispanics can be considered affluent with incomes over $75,000. Still, many may perceive Hispanics to be mainly lower income even though approximately one in five Hispanics live in poverty. Hispanics bear noticeable differences from their non‐Hispanic white counterparts for financial products preferences. Further, Hispanic Americans lag behind with regard to breadth and depth of financial assets, particularly riskier but usually higher return asset classes. By the same token, the preferences for different financial products and services vary for Hispanic Americans based on their income level, education, country of origin, and number of years that they or their families have been in the U.S.

It’s time to understand their culture code for Money.

What is a Culture Code?

A culture code is the representation of our cultural understanding of a physical or abstract object. A full set of culture codes form the cultural unconscious, which is hidden from our own understanding, but is seen in our actions.

These culture codes or mental structures are formed at an early age and these strong imprints placed in people’s subconscious are determined by the culture in which they are raised. This is why people from different cultures have such different reactions to the same things.

American Culture Code for Money

First, let’s cover the definition of the culture code for money.

Dr. Clotaire Rapaille, the renowned anthropologist states that “the notion that we “come from nothing” pervades America. In a sense, we have the poorest rich people in the world, because even those who accumulate huge sums of money think like poor people. They continue to work hard, they continue to focus on cash flow and expenses, and they continue to struggle to earn more.”

But thinking of Americans as worried only about money is a misconception. To Americans money isn’t a goal in and of itself. It symbolizes a measure of how far they’ve come and how much was achieved. Money show us who the big winners are, therefore, the American Culture Code for money is PROOF.

Hispanic Culture Code for Money

Hispanics are risk averse. This changes with new generations being born in the U.S. You don’t talk about money and the risks associated with financial instruments and unstable economies.

Let’s examine the Latino culture in Latin America, where money is not proof of achievements or self-worth but a taboo. In Latin America, just like in Europe, there’s very little movement between economic classes. The children of professionals become professionals, the children of business owners become business owners and, for the most part, people stay within their class. Therefore money stops being proof to become something unpleasant you do not speak about.

In the United States speaking about money does not carry the same negative connotation than in Latin America, where doing so (speaking about money) in front of others or with others of same, higher or lower means is considered vulgar.

There is a also belief in Latin American culture that you can strike it rich with a fabulous (and easy to implement) idea. This notion is very much in line with the Hispanic fatalistic outlook in life where the belief is that things are predestined to be or to happen. The idea being that no matter what my origin or inherited resources, one can achieve financial success, not by hard work but by serendipitous means.

Therefore, the Latino culture code for money is LUCK. You got lucky to have been born into money, or lucky to have struck gold. Maybe you got lucky because you married somebody with money.

Among Latinos, the culturally accepted way to indicate wealth and material success is by owning the latest technology, wearing the latest fashion (designer, of course) or a high end luxury car. These are all symbols that enable people to demonstrate their wealth without having to talk about it. This is the exact opposite to the U.S. culture, where comfort rules and people wear what they prefer without worrying about being judged as successful or not for it.

US-born Hispanics Culture Code for Money

Let’s analyze the impact of both culture codes on U.S.-born Hispanics and highly acculturated ones. We will notice a dichotomy of thought that is accentuated the more the Latin and American culture codes are incorporated into their acculturation and enculturation process.

This process does not mean switching one cultural more for another. Changing mores would imply a process of assimilation whereas adopting and incorporating a new more implies a process of acculturation. What takes place inside of the bicultural persons’ brain is cultural frame-switching (CFS.) Cultural values switch, one taking prevalence over the other at different times to evaluate a message or situation. As a bicultural person, one can feel more comfortable speaking about money while looking at the situation from one’s culture perspective or feel less comfortable when perceiving and interpreting through the other culture, all thanks to cultural frame-switching.

The concept of cultural frame switching (CFS) or double consciousness was made popular by W.E.B Du Bois and focuses on how an individual switches between cultural frames of reference in response to a stimuli or to their environment.

“Individuals who integrate two cultures into their identity often attach cultural meaning systems to a framework that can be elicited by the language, icons, or stereotypes of that culture. Bilingual biculturals, when primed for a framework, may switch compatibly or incompatibly with the cultural frame elicited.” — Cultural frame switching and cognitive performance by Miriam Walsh, Ed.S., California Sate University, Fresno, 2011, 104 pages; 3458356

A good way to measure acculturation level for Latinos is how comfortable they become about speaking about money and less comfortably about sex.

American Hispanic Market Segments for the Financial Industry

While understanding the culture code for money pertaining to any culture is key for the marketing of any product and service, this need becomes heightened when we talk about the Financial and Banking industry.

We have identified 5 Hispanic market segments for Hispanics over 18 years of age who reside in the United States and are bicultural. It is important to highlight that biculturalism does not go hand in hand with bilingualism. Different strategies may have to be developed for these segments and for specific financial products or services these segments may have to be merged or split even further.

“Although the terms “bicultural” and “bilingual” are often seen together in the same text, there is very little work that attempts to encompass them into one reality, bicultural bilinguals. This paper takes up a number of themes that pertain to bicultural bilinguals, most notably how they are described in the literature, how they become both bilingual and bicultural, and how their languages and cultures wax and wane over time. Other aspects discussed are their linguistic and cultural behaviour as bicultural bilinguals, how they identify themselves both linguistically and culturally, as well as their personality as bicultural bilinguals. An effort is made whenever possible to bridge the gap between the two components that make up bicultural bilinguals – the linguistic and the cultural – and to show how the questions that interest linguists when studying bilinguals can be taken up and adapted by researchers examining cultural issues, and vice versa.” — François Grosjean, Université de Neuchâtel, Avenue du Premier-Mars 26, 2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

These segments range from low-income Hispanics who can only access second-chance lending mortgages, prepaid or debit cards and basic savings accounts to high-income Hispanic Americans interested in more complex investments, mortgages and home equity loans.

In addition, language becomes a key factor in communicating and engaging with each segment. A large number  of Hispanics prefer to do business in English, particularly since the Spanish version of most financial literature existent in the U.S. misses out on detail and key disclosures that directly affect the financial transaction. Some companies make the horrible mistake of sending translated information to prospects and/or customers based only on whether their last name seems to be “Hispanic-like.”

Financial Industry Hispanic market Segments

Financial Industry Hispanic market Segments

To give you an idea of how attractive this market is, we think it’s worth mentioning the Underserved market. The “underserved” market represents more than 88 million individuals and nearly $1.3 trillion in wages.

Financial Industry Hispanic market segments characteristics and size

Financial Industry Hispanic market segments characteristics and size

It is important to highlight that biculturalism does not go hand in hand with bilingualism. Different strategies may have to be developed for the segments presented and, for specific financial products or services, these segments may have to be merged or split even further.

More about Hispanic Market Segmentation


Target Latino has studied the U.S. Hispanic population, the Latin American and U.S. non-Hispanic, their online and offline behavior, for over 30 years, even before the Hispanic market was first “discovered.” As a result, we’ve developed proprietary methodologies that enable us to identify and segment Hispanics, online or offline, by age, gender, country and region of origin. We specialize in the identification of culture codes for the Hispanic market.

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5 Awesome 2014 Soccer World Cup Ads

Isn’t it funny that now we all focus on the 2014 soccer World Cup Ads? Didn’t it used to be an almost exclusive event surrounding the Super Bowl? As the U.S. gets more involved with soccer, the larger the U.S. audience and the higher the number of advertisers wanting to capture their attention.

Because of it and because soccer or fútbol is so embedded into the Hispanic culture, I have selected 5 awesome 2014 Soccer World Cup ads to share with you. Well, there’s more but wanted to save some for my next post. 😉

For one month let's all be fútbol fans.

For one month let’s all be fútbol fans.

Gatorade: #1 of the 2014 Soccer World Cup Ads

I have seen Boca Juniors players, one of the two most famous fútbol clubs in Argentina,  preparing for the games and they actually do these exercises. Watching Lionel Messi, David Luiz and Sergio Ramos’ movements orchestrated against a bit of Disney magic from Cinderella when she is getting ready for the ball was truly outstanding. Talk about parallelism.

The hashtag #WinFromWithin could not know be more fitting for Gatorade. The perfect product placement through the ad allows you to truly notice the brand. Great work from their agency, Tracylocke.

Hyundai: #2 of the Brazil Soccer World Cup Ads

A campaign that promotes that fans meet each other and celebrate their passion for football. A flood of expectant mothers arrive to a hospital to deliver their babies all in the same night, 9 months after Spain wins the World Cup.
The Hyundai campaign has a great social media tie in with #BecauseFootball. Thank you, Innocean USA.

KIA: #3 of the Soccer World Cup Ads

Kia motors and its agency David & Goliath bring us Adriana Lima and this great campaign that seems it will continue showing us more reasons why “For one month let’s all be fútbol fans”. The Brazilian model, actress and a Victoria Secret angel definitely has the power to convince all american football fans to call it fútbol for one month!

Unfortunately, I cannot share the campaign with you as they do not allow re-sharing of their ads. It does get them more exposure to their brand and great endorsement. So, one cannot but wonder, what is wrong with KIA?

Thumbs down to KIA.

McDonald’s: #4 of the Brazil 2014 Soccer World Cup Ads

“House Divided” depicts the similarities between a mexican father and his U.S. born son in spite of their football rivalry. The father, of course, cheers for Mexico while the son feels a bit torn between Mexico and the USA.

The ad plays on the duality that most Hispanic millennials feel when their teams play each other. But, in the end, father and son agree on one thing: they’re both happy to travel to Brazil when they both win the price from McDonald’s.

Terrific campaign from Alma.

Jaguar: #5 of the 2014 Soccer World Cup Ads

Jaguar seems to be getting more into advertising at big sports event. The first one was at the last SuperBowl and it featured villains as well.

In “Striker”, Jozy Altidore is the soccer ball thief of the World Cup. Hilarious, fresh and the villains continue driving Jaguars!! 🙂


Messi World Cup 2014 Gatorade ad

Messi World Cup 2014 Gatorade ad

Last but not least, I wanted to share this introduction from the social network that is IMHO the most Soccer World Cup friendly of them all: Twitter!

Keep tuned! I will feature more soccer World Cup Ads soon!!

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Latinos in Kansas to Have Hispanic Day on the Hill

Claudia Goffan, Hispanic Marketing professional and CEO at Target Latino, named expert keynote speaker by the Kansas Hispanic & Latino American Affairs Commission with the office of the Governor Sam Brownback.

Atlanta, GA – March 27, 2013 – The Kansas Hispanic & Latino American Affairs Commission, with the office of Governor Sam Brownback, is proclaiming Hispanic Day on the Hill at the Capitol in Topeka, Kansas that this year will take place on April 1st- a day wherein Hispanics from Kansas will come together to obtain updated information on key policy and encouraged to meet with their legislators at the Capitol.

The Kansas landscape has changed dramatically since the 2000 U.S. Census. The state’s Hispanic population grew by 59 percent over the past decade. There are over 301,000 Hispanics that reside in Kansas – the 17th largest Hispanic population share nationally- and more than 37% of them are eligible to vote (higher than North Carolina with only 24%).

Claudia Goffan - Target Latino CEO

Claudia Goffan – Target Latino CEO

Claudia Goffan, CEO at Target Latino, Hispanic Marketing expert and Latino community advocate, has been named keynote speaker where she will address the main factors to consider when reaching out to this key demographic.

Claudia has been the Hispanic Marketing expert on Soledad O’Brien’s VIP Panel for the launch of CNN’s major documentary, “Latino in America.” She has been featured in Adweek, Univision, Telemundo, Huffington Post, and is a public speaker in Social Media and Multicultural issues at Emory University, CNN, Columbia University, Georgia State University, and AARP Viva, among others.

“I am honored to have been selected as a keynote speaker for this event.” Goffan said “When I was invited by Adrienne Foster, the Executive Director of Kansas Hispanic & Latino American Affairs Commission, Mayor of Roeland Park and a truly impressive Latina, to speak in the same state that has seen the birth of such important Hispanic figures as Janet Murguía, President of the NCLR, and Juan Sepulveda, Democratic National Committee senior adviser for Hispanic Affairs, my heart skipped a beat.”

Goffan will also attend meetings at the Topeka Chamber of Commerce with businesses interested in reaching out and serving this increasingly influential community.


For more information regarding Hispanic Day on the Hill or Claudia Goffan, please contact Target Latino at +1 866 600 7030. You can also follow us on @targetlatino for our latest updates.


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First Latino Pope Francis I: History in the making

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope today, becoming the first pontiff from Latin America and taking the name Pope Francis.

The white smoke, accompanied by the pealing of bells to eliminate any confusion, billowed from a flue on the roof of the Sistine Chapel, prompting the huge gathered in the square to erupt in applause and cheers.

Pope Francis I - Papa Francisco PrimeroPope Francis becomes the first pope to hail from outside of Europe. He is also the first Hispanic Pope and the first Latin American Pope as well as the first Argentinean Pope. Latin America is one of the biggest bastions of Catholicism in the world but more bets were being placed on the Cardinal from Brazil.

Pope Francis I (Papa Francisco Primero) appeared on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica after the pronouncement ‘Habemus Papam’ – “We have a pope.”  He spoke in Latin, Italian and in Spanish.

This pope is the 266th successor Pope to the Catholic churches original apostle St. Peter.  White smoke appeared at 7.:05 p.m. local Vatican time indicating 115 cardinals had been made after five rounds of cloistered voting.

Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez called his thinking harkened back to “medieval times and the Inquisition.”

Personally, what resonated with me the most was when he said: “Let’s pray for the whole world because it is a great brotherhood.”

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The ASPIRA Association applauds Verizon and its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Lowell McAdam, for strongly supporting comprehensive immigration reform. In a letter dated March 4, 2013 addressed to all the members of the bipartisan group of U.S. Senators who are working on immigration reform legislation, McAdam indicated that the need for comprehensive immigration reform is “a critical step in re-igniting economic growth in America…More fundamentally, however, the genius of America lies in the fact that we are a nation of immigrants bound together by national values of economic opportunity, rewarding hard work and providing access to education. Throughout our history, immigrants have come here and have created the American Dream.” added McAdam in urging senators to continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

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“Verizon has always recognized the importance of the Latino community to the nation’s economy and how critical it is to our country’s future. It has been a leader in supporting our community, whether in education, jobs, helping build businesses, or providing access to technology. However, to rise to take such a public position on an issue that has been so controversial and divisive in recent years shows great courage, and how deep Verizon’s commitment to our community truly is. We urge other major corporate leaders to follow Verizon’s lead so that we can finally bring millions of Latinos, especially Latino youth, out from the shadows.” said Ronald Blackburn Moreno, President and CEO of ASPIRA.

McAdam’s letter was sent to Senators Bennet (D-CO), Durbin (D), Flake (R-AZ), Graham (R-SC), McCain (R-AZ), Menéndez (D-NJ), and Rubio (R-FL), who are leading the effort in the U.S. Senate to craft legislation on immigration reform.

“For the first time in over a decade, there is a real opportunity for congress to pass bipartisan legislation that will grant legal status and a path to citizenship to millions of Latinos. Corporate America should lend its powerful voice in support of comprehensive immigration reform.” said Blackburn Moreno.

Founded in New York in 1961, ASIPIRA is the only national Latino organization dedicated exclusively to the education and leadership development of Latino youth. For over 50 years, ASPIRA has fostered educational excellence and civic engagement among Latino youth and to build a new generation of Latino leaders.


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