The Hispanic Factor - Pharmaceutical Executive

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The Hispanic Factor


Pharmaceutical Executive



Jane Finney
It's no secret that the Hispanic population in the United States is growing by leaps and bounds. Today, Hispanic people make up 14 percent of the population—that's 44 million Americans. And according to a US Census forecast, Hispanics will compose 25 percent of the population by 2050. To effectively market to the ever-expanding Hispanic community in the United States, pharma companies must understand and respect certain cultural insights and differences. This involves much more than just translating materials into Spanish. It begins with understanding the differences in the US Hispanic population's demonstrated overall behavioral patterns in relation to healthcare and addressing potential barriers in marketing materials in order to improve relevance, compliance, patient care, and corresponding prescriptions. [For the purpose of this article, we will use the term Hispanic to indicate immigrants of Hispanic origin as well as US-born individuals of Hispanic descent.]

Cultural Differences

Pharma marketers and healthcare professionals must take acculturation into consideration when designing marketing materials for Hispanic consumers. Acculturation is the degree to which an individual from another culture has assimilated into the dominant culture of his or her new home. Hispanic individuals who are foreign-born and emigrated to the United States as adults tend to maintain their home language and home-country beliefs and perspectives. But a person of Hispanic descent born in the United States is likely to be far more acculturated, even if he or she is steeped in the cultural traditions of his or her immigrant parents or grandparents.


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With respect to the burgeoning US Hispanic population, the less acculturated the individual, the more likely he or she is to have a lower level of education and income and, in the case of health and wellness, a curative versus a preventive approach to illness. He or she is more likely to use home remedies and herbal cures versus OTC and prescription drugs. And religion, spirituality, and fatalism probably play a more important role with regard to his or her health.

According to the National Council of La Raza, "the strong religious convictions among many Hispanics have led them to believe that life and health are controlled by divine will, fate, and the environment, generating a sense of personal powerlessness." Many Hispanic immigrants come from societies in which divine will was frequently presented as an explanation for tragedies and societal inequities. Fatalism ("fate decides, not me") remains a strong tenet in the Hispanic community, where the group is traditionally valued over the individual and religious sentiment is often strong.


People
In this context, many Hispanic immigrants don't feel that their US healthcare providers understand the needs of their community. They may say, "They don't understand my language. They don't understand my culture. They don't understand my needs. They don't understand me." According to the "Latino Medical Report" in Latino Perspectives magazine (June 2007), one-fifth of Spanish-speaking Hispanic people in the United States say they forgo medical treatments because most doctors can't communicate with them or don't understand their culture. We recommend that our clients have a toll-free number with a live operator who speaks Spanish. For highly sensitive issues like health, a "real person" interaction is key.


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