May, 6 was a slow morning for many, as people all over the United States attempted to recover from the festivities of the day before. But not just Mexican-Americans celebrate Cinco De Mayo in the U.S., Hispanics, African Americans, and White Americans all appreciate the traditions from our Southern neighbor. But where do these traditions come from? Most don’t even know what they’re celebrating, mistaking the event for “Mexican Independence Day.”
Similar to St. Patrick ’s Day, which early on served as a way for immigrants to celebrate their heritage in the U.S., this holiday, is more widely observed domestically, than it is abroad, where the festivities originated. Both holidays have become very popular after a commercialized exploitation of cultural stereotypes for the sake of boosting tequila and cerveza sales. According to market research company, Nielsen, Americans bought more than $600 million worth of beer in 2013 for Cinco de Mayo. That’s more beer than was sold for the Super Bowl or St. Patrick’s Day. With these statistics, it is no surprise that many brands take advantage of this holiday for promotions campaigns. But after “Good Morning America” co-host Lara Spencer renamed this holiday “Cinco de Drinko” in 2014, various media outlets made a great effort this year on educating individuals about the true story behind Cinco de Mayo, instead of following the stereotypes and the propaganda of alcohol sale. ABC News, for example, did a wonderful job by creating an amazing true story video behind America’s favorite Mexican holiday. Kudos to ABC News!
In conclusion, although this day does consist of an increase in sales of cervezas, limes, margaritas, fajitas, sombreros, and ponchos, it is not the full representation of the Hispanic population in the U.S. Many brands make the mistake of homogenizing the wide range of Hispanic-Americans that call this country home. The U.S. has a rich culture of Spanish-speaking populations from all over the globe, and they should be treated as such by marketers. There are many individual demographics within the Hispanic-American population, and they are a powerful resource to target, especially Hispanic millennials. However, brands need to be cautious of stereotypes. This is a smart marketing approach that holds up year-round, not just on this one particular holiday. Don’t make the mistake of approaching Hispanics as one market; i.e. assuming all Hispanics are Mexican, but do recognize and appreciate each heritage respectfully and the history of such holidays.
Cinco de Mayo: A brief History by ABC News