The consumer landscape in the US is changing; as Latinos become a more prominent part of the consumer market, companies must adapt to the diversifying cultural dynamics. According to Forbes, “there are 131 million multicultural Americans, making up 37.5% of the U.S. population, with Hispanics accounting for the largest portion at64 million people or 19.6%.” The power of the Latino community goes further than this, with a projected 1.7 trillion dollars in purchasing power by 2020, according to L’Attitude. However, adaptation goes beyond marketing gimmicks and it is about developing real knowledge of what makes Latinos tick.

To gain insight into how companies can take advantage of this growing consumer sector, we spoke to Carlos Garcia, a successful entrepreneur, and expert on the Latino market.

Finhabits with a focus on cultural competency as the key differentiating factor to attract Latinos. This means using behavioral data to understand how culture shapes consumer behaviors and decision-making. Garcia asserts that only through harnessing the power of data can you build a successful one to one relationship with a customer. Garcia believes that the data is so powerful that Finhabits is designed around sending the right message at the right time to nudge people into making the right choices.  Thinking of withdrawing money with the market drops? Finhabits predicts this behavior and delivers a message to keep you on the right track. Garcia attributes the success of Finhabits to its use of data and a culturally-oriented mission. The case of Garcia and Finhabits illustrates the importance of listening to consumers and tailoring offerings based on their particular circumstances. For example, because many Latinos’s income varies from month to month, the Finhabits app has the flexibility to start, stop, or increase deposits at any time. Finhabits was created to fill the knowledge gap of financial services for people without experience with investing or a trusting relationship with financial institutions; in particular, Latinos. Garcia drew from his personal experience – knowing that many Latinos, like those in his community growing up, do not have access to retirement savings.  Latinos work hard, sometimes working two to three jobs, but they do not invest their money to make it work for them.  Personal finance is not taught in school nor is it discussed around the dinner table. This phenomenon is not unique to Latino culture but does present an opportunity to help someone who did not grow up learning personal finance.  That is why he created Finhabits to educate, empower and give Latinos the tools to build wealth for the community.

Read the full article about cultural competence by Carlos Garcia at The Aspen Institute.