Johnny S. Garcia, MBA
Senior Regional Advisor, AARP
Creating Real-People Connections
It’s very safe to say that today’s Hispanic/Latino society has vastly evolved in one form or another into a mass market where different cultural attributes play a role in many aspects of our everyday lives. This growth has resulted in a representation of how we perceive ourselves from a multicultural lens. Thus, more than ever, many organizations, brands, and people are looking for opportunities to show up and get involved. I recently read in an article from Forbes about the importance of tapping into the Hispanic/Latino market as well as understanding the value to the economy with their growing spending power. This couldn’t be truer. However, and more importantly (and perhaps arguably), it goes beyond the continued market growth and spending power that we have as a group, which expects to increase to about $1.7 trillion by 2020. In my years of experience working with this community, I’ve understood that there is a deeper level of responsibility and commitment to the Hispanic/Latino market. That deeper level of understanding speaks to the different and unique factors like demographics, socioeconomics, cultural identity, and cultural traditions among others. They have established the foundation of who we are as a group of people today. Having worked in this space for over 10 years in various levels and capacities, I’ve learned no-one-size fits-all, regardless of the social issues that may bring the community together. However, one thing I know for sure which has proven to be true amongst the various Latino communities I’ve worked with and their organizations is that getting involved and being part of this community takes the ability to demonstrate intentionality, consistency, and credibility resulting in trust. All of that does take extensive time and commitment. They are essential in enhancing one’s efforts with cultural sensitivity and relevance, especially when it comes to thinking beyond the buying power to engage with the Hispanic/Latino community. It merits being able to think outside the box to foster innovation.
As a Latino leader, I’ve seen our community grow exponentially locally and nationally - we still have ways to go though. As a result, throughout my career and various community roles, at my core is to be able to identify opportunities to engage, advocate, and connect the Hispanic/Latino community to opportunities that will empower and bridge a gap to strengthen Hispanics/Latinos. We all know change is a constant thing. With that, there will always be a need to engage and integrate the Hispanic/Latino community to position them at the forefront as a growing market. There are endless possibilities and in order to reach them it’s imperative to build outreach and connectivity efforts that resonate with this audience (referring to being intentional, consistent, and credible). The Hispanic/Latino community often responds well to those key drivers because it expresses empathy. Likewise, it adds value to the community, thereby establishing a sense of belonging. It is then, you begin to develop those key relationships with members of the community and key leaders.
Throughout my career, I’ve had the chance to lead many marketing and outreach initiatives in the small non-profit sector, national non-profit sector, and government sector. Consequently, I’ve had the opportunity to work with different people within the Hispanic/Latino community to include, community leaders, national leaders, city-appointed officials, organizations, and different generational demographics. Leveraging everyone at the table is vital to ensure successful long-term outcomes, which are supportive of the community and their needs.
As a Senior Regional Advisor at AARP, one of my key focuses is to identify and develop strategies that will allow us to continue to concentrate on how we are culturally showing up in Hispanic/Latino communities in the South Region of the country. The community knows what it wants from different brands and entities and in most cases it’s those things that often trend or things that connect them to their network of families and friends. Keeping this top of mind in our work at AARP, I lead these efforts across nine states throughout the country and I’m really keen on how we can do things differently to develop innovative methods to build deeper more relevant resonance with Hispanic/Latino communities. Fundamental to all this is being able to learn from the different communities across the region about their interests and how AARP can play a role. From that, offer long-term experiences that create real-people connections where they live.