Thursday, December 30, 2010

The 2010 Census Count: Marketing to Latinos

Many marketers are waiting for the results of the 2010 US Census to learn about the growth of the ethnic/cultural segments they target. That expectation will be met when the Census releases that data by about March 2011.

We can expect to learn about the age, gender, household role, Hispanic/Latino origin, and race of theoretically every person living in the United States on April 1, 2010. We will learn about how many Hispanics there are in the US, and the number is likely to be surprising and revealing even though there are always issues in counting those who do not have documents and others who simply do not want to be counted. Most likely the official number will be around 50 million Latinos. We need to remember that there were many social, political, and economic issues that influenced the residency of Hispanics in the last 10 years, when many decided to return to Latin America and others just did not feel like being counted.

The US Census form was simple and contained only 10 questions. The results of this form will tell us the very important story of how many people of different backgrounds and demographics live in the United Stated. The findings will provide information for the allocation of congressional representation and for the allocation of Federal budgets to States, and will give us an important overall picture of the composition of the country.

But there are many issues that the decennial US Census will not address because of the use of the short form. Thus, many important questions that marketers have will not be answered by this count. Many may not be aware but marketers do not have to wait for decennial census reports to obtain valuable information about their customers. That is because the US Bureau of the Census collects data from very large samples every year the main one of which is the American Community Survey (ACS) that addresses specific issues such as language use at home and ability to speak English.

For many years the US Bureau of the Census has provided 1 and 3 year average estimates of many measures based on the ACS. The most recent ACS data currently available is for 2009, which for practical purposes is pretty much as good as it will get for a while. Yearly estimates do not vary dramatically. Marketers are encouraged to become familiar with the data available from the ACS as it can make important contributions to their decisions. And again, these data come out every year with about a one year lag. Not bad at all.

In doing some analysis of the 2009 ACS data I came up with some figures that are quite interesting regarding language use. For example I found out that California, Texas, Illinois, and Colorado, each respectively have 26% of Hispanic household that can be considered linguistically isolated. That means that in those households there is no person age 14 years or over who speaks only English or who speaks English "very well." These are households who likely depend on Spanish language communications quite substantively.

Further, in doing more digging I found in the 2009 ACS that approximately 70% of Hispanics speak Spanish at home. The amount of time they speak Spanish is not known but this is an important figure that has been relatively stable over many years. Perhaps more surprising, estimates from the 2009 American Community Survey show that about 54% of those who speak Spanish also speak English “Very Well” or “Well.” And that approximately 77% of all Hispanics Speak only English or speak it “Well” or “Very Well.” Now, remember, these are not households as in the case of linguistic isolation but individuals. The implications are quite interesting in that they confirm that targeting Hispanics in English is increasingly more feasible. This, however, does not mean that the cultural insights that will resonate with Latinos can be ignored. In fact, it is perhaps more important now than ever because connecting culturally is probably the most powerful tool available to marketers in an environment where language is not as determinant a differentiator as it was some time ago.

The moral of the story is that the 2010 Census will be very important but that many of the details about consumers are now available every year and that a 10 year wait is not necessary, or even possible because the decennial Census contains just 10 questions. Further, it is important to dig deeper in these data since numbers out of context can tell a story that is just not the complete story. Our upcoming book "Hispanic Marketing: Connecting with Latino Consumers" will address many of these issues and it is expected to be published by August 2011.

Friday, October 29, 2010

How Can Companies Address Cultural Diversity in Marketing

There are companies that have dedicated groups to deal with Latinos, for example. And sometimes they have separate groups to handle multiple minority group. In some cases there is a multicultural marketing group as distinct from the main marketing group. Some companies have had niche marketing units for a while and then have disbanded them. Some recreate them after a while and then merge them into discrete business units. There may not be one recipe for how to organize the marketing function to account for cultural diversity among consumers but the following are important requirements:

1.      First and foremost there must be members of the cultural groups of interest within the organization at most levels of decision making. These individuals should, at least conceptually, be vigilant about issues that affect their cultural communities. Hispanic in our case.

2.      There should be cultural expertise in the organization that goes beyond objective culture to address the subjective culture of the groups in question. Ideally these would be cultural anthropologists that also have marketing expertise. As a minimum these should be practitioners that have some in-depth training about the focus culture, even if they are members of the culture itself. Being a member of a cultural group does not necessarily imply that the person understands his/her own culture. That is because culture is not evident even to its own members. In house cultural expertise used in marketing strategies and tactics can help connect effectively with culturally diverse consumers and avoid costly errors. Also, it helps organizations avoid the assumption of similarity that many marketers tend to make because “after all we are all human.” I have made the point elsewhere that using culture as a connecting mechanism becomes a shorthand for better communication with culturally diverse groups.

3.      As purposeful marketing claims increased importance in the marketplace, organizations are redefining their mission to become better citizens. As the grocery store a hundred years ago had the purpose of serving its community businesses now are coming back to that enlightened point. As a sense of purpose guides the organization the bottom line is also covered. Purposeful marketing requires now that companies act upon the multicultural reality of the United States.

4.      Integrating decision making in organizations will be an increasingly important endeavor. This is particularly true in marketing as Latinos and other emerging minorities cannot be seen as niches anymore but as driving forces of the entire economy. The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) can no longer compartmentalize culturally diverse groups as smaller opportunities than the defunct “general market.” There is no such thing as a general market, there are segments of cultural groups compounded by subcultures and lifestyles. These need to be understood in a coherent scheme where culture is part of the segmentation scheme, and where culture is part of the strategic thinking of the company.

5.      The cultural experience of the company needs to be an ongoing effort. Companies need to keep their radar out in culturally diverse communities to understand trends and changes. Executives need to go on ethnographic interview outings to see where and how their consumers live. They need to experience firsthand consumer practices and ways of behaving. It is not just the research/insights group that needs to be in contact with consumers, it is the decision makers. To do otherwise makes the work of researchers and insight gatherers futile because they will not resonate at the decision making levels. Marketing needs to go back to the village, larger now but still a village in a psychological sense.

There does not seem to be a way to ignore the cultural transition the United States is experiencing. Marketers are at the point where they need to strategize and segment in a comprehensive way. Marketing to Hispanics, for example, is not anymore a secondary priority, because that is where the future resides. But a new approach to marketing in a diverse society should be done so that complexity and cultural overlaps are recognized.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why U.S. Hispanics Use Social Networking Sites

By Felipe Korzenny, Ph.D. 

This article was originally included in "Latino Link" by Joe Kutchera in 2010 (PMP Publishers) and it is reproduced here by permission.

In 2009, The Florida State University Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication and DMS Insights, in collaboration with Captura Group,  collected online national level data about Hispanics’ use of social networking sites.The main motivation of this study was to find out what reasons, attitudes, preferences, and demographics contribute to the time Hispanics spend on social networking sites online. The national online Hispanic sub-sample was composed of almost 541 Hispanics who answered the questionnaire in English and 351 who answered in Spanish.

The dependent variable of this study—that is, the behavior we were attempting to explain—is the number of hours that Hispanics/Latinos reported spending while “visiting social networking sites on an average week.” This specific study included a mix of 80 general attitudes, preferences, and reasons and behaviors relevant to online activities and participation in social networking sites.

We observed that, in general, the more time Latinos spend using the Internet, be it in Spanish or English, the more time they spend on social networking sites. Thus, online familiarity and activity appear to create a propensity for participation in social media online. The key reasons why Hispanics spend time on social networking sites is for messaging, blogging, self-expression, making new friends, and sharing cherished images. The reasons that were least important for using social networking sites included promoting my business, promoting causes, asking questions, answering questions, commenting on people’s activities, telling stories, chatting, and using classifieds.

That messaging and overall self-expression constitute central reasons for Latinos to connect online makes sense. In this and other research, we have found that self-expression is one of the strong motivators of Hispanics generally. Thus, the Internet has become a most important liberating technology that allows repressed social needs to be expressed. Hispanics, in particular, are fond of sharing their experiences.

Other factors strongly associated with time spent on visiting social networking sites included reading magazines in English, being younger, and being concerned about one’s diet. That younger Latinos spend more time on social networking sites is not surprising. What is surprising is that, while age is important, it is not nearly as important as other factors and reasons as more older Hispanics get turned on to social networks online. Reading magazines in English seems to imply that the type of people who are on social networks tend to be generally “print or text” oriented and curious about the world around them. Interestingly, concern about one’s diet may be partially addressed by social networks where Hispanics share issues and information of importance. Perhaps those who are more socially active are also more concerned about their health and appearance, and hence their diet is very important to them. Accordingly, food and fitness advertisers are likely to benefit from being more active and visible in social networks where Latinos share their experiences. Notably, gender was not found to make a difference in this analysis.

Marketers and service providers can capitalize on research like this by understanding that, by facilitating messaging and self-expression online, they are likely to attract the interest of Latinos. There are few reasons that are most important for attracting Hispanics to social networks online, and this research should serve as a step in that direction. Advertisers should consider embedding and linking to social networks where Hispanics participate to facilitate interaction and self-expression. Merchant websites should also consider the importance that Latinos assign to self-expression and sociability and facilitate these activities on their sites. As a corollary, I should emphasize that it seems like the age of corporate and organizational censoring is being replaced by an age of openness.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Latinos Online And The Theory of Telepresence

As mediated communications increase in their importance, the question of how cultural differences may influence how people relate to each other in mediated situations becomes salient. Some time ago I published "A Theory of Electronic Propinquity" which basically states that the degree to which people are comfortable communicating via phone, teleconference, etc., varies with the degree to which there is a feedback mechanism in the channel, the complexity of the information being communicated, the skills of the communicators, the rules imposed on the communication, and the availability of alternative channels for communication that may be preferred over the current choice. A colleague Joe Walther at Michigan State University has done important research on the theory, but no one has done a cross-cultural comparison.

In particular, now that Hispanics are distinguishing themselves by embracing social media and online communications to a larger extent than other cultural groups in our society, cross-cultural comparisons are relevant. My hypothesis is that one of the reasons why Hispanics are eager to embrace social media, blogs, and other mediated online communications is because many of these media provide the feedback mechanism needed for satisfaction with the medium. This is because Latinos seem to rejoice in obtaining immediate feedback. That is, a fluid and spontaneous interaction. Further. As we have been raised with the expectation that we will be part of a close knit social group, we tend to have more skills to interact, even when the communication is mediated by technology.

Clearly, the complexity of the information is a limitation in that complex interactions are more difficult when mediated. Still, social media allows for broad bandwidth, or ample amount of information. Thus, social media is more acceptable in some situations than even face-to-face communications.  The rules for interacting in social media are flexible and it is precisely the lack of rigid protocol that is likely to entice Latinos to find satisfaction in modern online communications.

In other words, I have reasons to believe that new media allows Hispanics to recreate the village where everyone knows everyone else and where interactions are spontaneous. This cultural tendency towards going back to the village, but now in a global metaphor, liberates Latinos and other cultural groups. These are groups that have thrived in environments where interaction is free and enriching of everyday life. Environments where the satisfaction of life is found in social coexistence. Societal norms have stifled human communication but the emergence of online communications appear to be breaking them. That is why Latinos embrace these technologies, because they are technologies of liberation.

Clearly, we need to study these trends and consumer behaviors in much more detail. Still, the observable evidence is that the small village of our ancestors is now back online.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Cultural Icon: The Importance of Radio for Hispanics

A revised version of the following article written by me was recently published by Radio Ink 

Radio is part of everyday life in Latin America, and it is part of the daily routine of Latinos in the United States. When you visit almost any public park in most metro areas in the US you will find young Hispanic men in groups listening to their radios and conversing. You will also find families barbecuing, dancing, and enjoying their day with a ubiquitous radio as the center of attention.

But this tradition of radio enjoyment is not new. In most Latin American countries and particularly in rural areas, radio is the most local of all media and has served traditionally as the town-crier in an interactive way and as symbolic precursor of what the Internet is becoming. In smaller localities the radio announcer publicizes jobs, tells of lost animals and children, helps locate lost boyfriends and girlfriends, and spreads the word about local events. The local radio station also hosts community members in the form of discussion forums. Clearly, they also devote many hours to music, humor, and news. Hispanic radio in the US has replicated many of those Latin American features and continues to be a most relevant medium of mass reach.

The traditions we brought from Latin America are still well and alive here in the United States. Figures exist regarding the popularity of radio, particularly those from the radio industry. At the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University, in collaboration with DMS Insights, we have collected media exposure and media attitudes over the past four years. Here I will share some statistics regarding radio use and attitudes towards radio that US Hispanics as well as others who are online have responded to our surveys (we collected approximately 500 interviews nationally with each of the following: Hispanics who prefer English, Hispanics who prefer Spanish, Asians, African Americans, and non-Hispanic Whites for a total of approximately 2,500 completed questionnaires). The data reported in this article has only been published in the 2010 Radio Ink article mentioned above. The reader should bear in mind that the following data consists of self reports and is from people who are online. Here, attention should be paid to the relative importance of radio attitudes and exposure across cultural groups and not the absolute values in themselves.

When asked to agree or disagree on a “0” to “5” point scale with the statement “My radio (AM/FM) is always on while I drive” we find that online Hispanics who prefer to communicate in English and non-Hispanic Whites are the most likely to agree with this statement (top two box), as seen in the graph below:

Clearly, the above findings may be explained by the driving habits of these cultural groups. When asked to agree or disagree on the same scale as above with the statement “Radio listening is an important part of my daily routine,” both Hispanics who prefer to communicate in English and in Spanish are most likely to agree (top two box) that radio is important in their lives:

Now that listening to radio online has emerged as a new modality of radio exposure, we asked respondents to tell us how often they listen to radio online. Almost fifty percent of online Hispanics indicated they listen to the radio online at least twice a week, compared with a lesser frequency for the other cultural groups:

In addition, when it comes to Satellite Radio access, Hispanic respondents were most likely to have satellite radio than anyone else:

These findings confirm that radio is an important medium across ethnic lines, but that Hispanics consider it most central to their lifestyle. Further, Latinos are being innovators in leading others in the online and satellite radio spheres. That is not surprising because radio is part of the culture, part of what was enjoyed in Latin America and what makes daily lives enjoyable in the US.

While the ways in which Hispanics listen to radio may change, the medium itself is powerful and important. While Hispanics are listening to both Spanish and English language radio, radio listening is still a core activity, and important complement to the daily routine. Radio stations should increasingly explore ways to offer their programming online to keep their loyal audiences over time as they evolve. Satellite radio is emerging as a competitor worth keeping track of.

Advertisers, mostly importantly, should pay attention to the relational importance that radio has for Latinos in the US. Radio advertising should not be television or print adapted to radio but should be crafted for the medium. This has been said and known for a long time but not well executed in many cases. Well executed radio advertising can be very successful because of the very nature of the medium and the closeness it claims with Latino consumers.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Hispanic Population Numbers Surprising Marketers Again!

We are all waiting for the Census numbers. According to the official schedule we will not know the official number of US Hispanics until April of 2011. Nevertheless I took the time to look at some sources of data to figure out what the growth of US Latinos is likely to be in the next few years.

First I consulted the Geoscape projections for all the US population and Hispanics in 2015. These projections are based on Census data. The projection is that the total population of the US will be close to 323 million people and that of US Hispanics will of about 56 million people then. Well, I was expecting something like that. Then I looked at the Geoscape total population projection for 2010, which I found to be very close to the current count of the US population according to the population clock. Both sources said that there are about 310 million people in the US now. I looked at the latest Census data again and found that the US Census Bureau projection for Hispanics in 2009 was 48.4 million. Geoscape projection for 2010 is of close to 50 million people.

I started doing some simple arithmetic and rounded up numbers for simplicity. Let's assume there are 50 million Hispanics in the US now, and there will be 56 million in 2015. The difference is 6 million. Then I substracted 310 million from 323 million for the entire population in 2015. That means that the total projected growth of the US population by 2015 will of about 13 million. If these numbers are anywhere close to accurate, the growth of the US Hispanic population will account for almost half of the total growth of the population of the United States.

These numbers left me thinking about how important Hispanics are to US marketers. A cultural group that accounts for half the growth of the population should make an important part of strategic planning. This is a cultural group that can be addressed by connecting via common denominators in a common culture. Numbers can have some interesting implications.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Meaning, translation, perfection, and trying for the future

I have been as skeptic of machine translation. How can an algorithm do the job of a trained language expert? It is definitely not easy. Even experts have difficulties identifying the meaning of subtle language and cultural nuances. Language, after all, is part of culture. Being part of culture, language cannot be a neutral code. There is no such thing as just translating from one language to another without understanding the context and knowing the cultures involved.
But I feel humbled by As a skeptic I have tried multiple texts to see if the Google algorithm can live up to expectations. Well, I am surprised. Not that a human expert eye and mind cannot do better but look at the following translation of a Wikipedia description of the Labyrinth of Solitude:
El laberinto de la soledad es un libro de Octavio Paz (ganador del premio Nobel a la literatura) publicado en 1950. Consta de nueve ensayos: "El pachuco y otros extremos", "Máscaras mexicanas", "Todos santos, día de muertos", "Los hijos de la Malinche" —donde expone su disertación sobre La Chingada—, "Conquista y Colonia", "De la Independencia a la Revolución", "La inteligencia mexicana", "Nuestros días" y como apéndice: "La dialéctica de la soledad". El Laberinto de la soledad parte de una opinión trágica e irrevocable: en el ser mexicano está presente, aún después de muchas generaciones, el hecho de que se trata de un pueblo surgido de una violación. Dice Octavio Paz: "En todas sus dimensiones, de frente y de perfil, en su pasado y en su presente, el mexicano resulta un ser cargado de tradición que, acaso sin darse cuenta, actúa obedeciendo a la voz de la raza..."
The Labyrinth of Solitude is a book by Octavio Paz (Nobel Prize winner for literature) published in 1950. It consists of nine essays: "The Pachuco and other extreme", "Mexican Masks", "All Saints, Day of the Dead," The Sons of Malinche, "where he outlined his dissertation on The Chingada-Conquest and colonial" "From Independence to Revolution," "The Mexican intelligence," "Our days" and an appendix: "The dialectic of solitude."The Labyrinth of Solitude part of a tragic and irrevocable opinion: in being Mexican is present, even after many generations, the fact that this is a people come out of a violation. Octavio Paz says: "In all its dimensions, front and side views, in his past and his present, the Mexican is a being full of tradition, perhaps unwittingly, acting in obedience to the voice of the race ... "
I can only say that Google has done it again. While culture interpretation requires skillful resources and while machine translation is not perfect, Google is at the forefront of trying.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Complexity in the Consumer Decision Making of Latinos

We have found that consumer decisions among Latinos are more likely to be influenced by the spouse, children, or other family members than among non-Hispanic Whites. In particular, Hispanics who prefer Spanish appear to be more likely to say that these “significant others” are important in influencing the products they buy. The table below illustrates the findings.
How Important are each of the following in influencing the products you buy?
Average Responses
African Americans
Non-Hispanic Whites
Other family
Scale: Five points from "not at all important" to "extremely important" 

These data were collected in 2008 as part of the ongoing Multicultural Marketing Study conducted by the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University and DMS Insights. The national sample had approximately 500 respondents in each segment for a total of almost 2,500.  The study was done online. Tests of statistical significance were conducted but omitted from the table to make it more readable. 

Overall Hispanics who responded in Spanish to the survey were more likely than most other segments to report being influenced by family members in general. Hispanics who responded in English were also more likely than most other segments to report being similarly influenced. Non-Hispanic Whites were found to be less likely than Hispanics, and almost everyone else, in general to be influenced by their family members. Asians and African Americans were generally in between or not statistically different from Hispanics who answered in English, or not different from non-Hispanic Whites.

The data provides food for thought for marketers who have believed that by getting to know how females head of household feel and think about products represents the family. Males and children are very important in influencing purchase decisions for the home. For one thing many Hispanic males, particularly those born abroad usually arrive in the US by themselves and live with other males. They learn the consumer landscape of the US and become consumers and decision makers here. When they bring their mates or meet them in the US, they are already very familiar with making consumer decisions for the household.

Further, children are particularly influential on families that are relatively new immigrants. Kids learn fast what are the product the family should buy. They influence decision making in the home probably more than anyone else in immigrant families.

When thinking about who the target is for commercial messages remember that the decision maker is not just one person. Also, remember that these people talk among themselves and influence each other very strongly. 

This information can be distributed as long as the source is acknowledged.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

All Marketing is Cultural

Many marketers still ask the question: What is different about marketing to Hispanics, Asians, African Americans, etc.? Isn't marketing just marketing?

Marketing is marketing but few marketers consciously realize that what they do is cultural marketing. So when they target women with children, they are really addressing a subculture in the United States.  When they address young people they are addressing another culture within a culture. When they target middle class homeowners they are not just addressing a so called "demographic," they are addressing a culture.

There is little awareness of what a culture is. A culture is a set of designs for living that are shared by many people, and sometimes those designs for living are passed on from generation to generation.

Most advertising would not work if it were not cultural. The marketer attempts to connect with consumers who share something in common, but the "demographic" is not what they share in common, it is the way of being, thinking, doing, valuing, and feeling.

Thus, it should not be surprising that to reach out to Latinos, for example, the marketer needs to understand their culture. And that is profound because it goes to the core of who people are. That is what ethnic marketing consists of. It is the understanding of the culture and the contextual issues surrounding it. It is different because the culture is different, but also because it is a lot harder to market to a different culture than to the one you are part of. See, culture is like water for the fish, we are seldom aware of it. We think a joke is funny just because it is funny. Not so, a joke is funny because it is culturally bound. A joke is funny to a group of people who share a culture, and not to others. An emotional appeal is emotional to those who share a common reaction to that appeal.

When the marketer crosses cultures s/he needs to make many assumptions explicit. There is no more obviousness of water to the fish. The fish needs to become aware of the water in order to succeed. That is what has to happen with marketers. They need to step out of the comfort of their own culture to be effective in another. That is why it is so difficult to do cross cultural marketing.

But, all marketing is cultural, and it is hard for many to realize that. So, now, why do we need to make special efforts to market to Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, etc.? Because they swim in different waters.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Multiculturalism and Integration: The Interplay of Society and Individuals

There is precedent for the current interest in multiculturalism. John Berry[i] presents a heuristic paradigm in which he considers the degree to which individuals value keeping their original cultural orientation, and the degree to which they find it valuable to maintain a relationship with the second culture. Those individuals who wish to preserve their culture and also relate to the second culture “integrate.” Those who do not value preserving their original culture and value the relationship with the second culture “assimilate.” Those who value their culture and do not care for the second culture tend to “separate.” And, finally, those who do not value either culture become “marginalized.”
Since there has been a strong movement towards cultural preservation and identity assertion it is likely that Latinos at this time are most likely to integrate. Some, particularly those who feel alienated from US society, tend to remain separate, but few seem to assimilate or to remain marginalized. That is because most tend to value their culture of origin, or their enculturation. Berry also addresses the reciprocal approaches that the receiving culture adopts to relate to immigrants. Individual integration has its societal parallel in multiculturalism, in which the immigrants’ culture is valued and society wishes to respect that cultural difference. Multiculturalism is the result of society accepting those who are different and proud to be so. Assimilation is the social parallel of the melting pot phenomenon in which the larger society accepts those who give up their original culture. If society respects the culture of the immigrants and does not wish for them to mix the result is segregation. This is what at the individual level is separation. Finally, when society finds no value in the culture of the immigrant and does not wish to have them integrate the result is exclusion. This is what at the individual level parallels marginalization.
In sum, immigrant Integration corresponds to Multiculturalism in a larger societal framework. Individual Assimilation matches the Melting Pot from a larger society perspective. Separation corresponds to social segregation, and individual marginalization matches social exclusion. Berry’s paradigm emphasizes that it both the attitude of the immigrant and the attitude of the receiving culture result in forces that affect the way in which both immigrants and the receiving society behave. 
Marketers, in their efforts to connect with consumers can consider that accepting the differences of Latinos promotes their harmonic integration in a multicultural society. This process elevates self esteem and when paired with brand attributes it can create long lasting brand relationships.
At the time of this writing the so called “immigration debate” is acrimonious and it is hard to predict how the larger society will behave towards immigrants in the near future. Nevertheless in the past 30 years or so there has been a tendency by the majority of US society to embrace diversity, and the cultural esteem of Hispanics has been elevated by wider acceptance and respect.  Greater and more visible Hispanic achievements have contributed to this increased acceptance. The likely outcome is that integration in a multicultural framework is the trend of the future. Most Hispanics have no reason for forgetting their original culture at this point. Hispanics appear to see more social and economic value in preserving key elements of their heritage. But let’s not make the mistake to think that such preservation is a copy of what Latin Americans experience, it is the preservation of the synergic cultural identity of being Latino in the United States.

[i] John W. Berry, Ype H. Poortinga, Marshall H. Segall, and Pierre R. Dasen,Cross-Cultural Psychology: Research and Applications (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2002) 354.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Relevance in Hispanic Print: Implications for Marketers

I have been thinking about the growing importance of Hispanic youth in the United States and how these young people are being served by the media. It is puzzling to think about ways in which print publications can be truly Hispanic in character and at the same time relevant to the culture and the growing segment of young Hispanic people educated in the United States.
I have been receiving a complimentary subscription to "Café Latino Lifestyle Magazine." Reading it recently I was struck by a partial answer to my question above. The cover of the last issue I saw featured "BlackTino: Children of mixed marriages define their own identity." I am interested in the topic because cross-cultural marriages and couples are on the rise, but also because there are many Hispanics from Latin America that are of African background. That I thought was an item of interest to those of us who share a Latin background in the United States. It speaks of our diversity.
Another article in the magazine was about the controversy of whether or not the US Census 2010 should be boycotted by Hispanics. The balanced views reported in the story were very informative to me and definitely a topic of importance to all of us. Other articles were about Santeria, Latino online dating, coming of age among Latinas, and many others. All of them of interest to me and even though many of the articles are directed to a younger profile.
Café is published in Chicago and it is in English. So, I thought, perhaps the key issue about Hispanic oriented print in the US is relevance to our current lives, and the language could be Spanish or English depending on the preference and ability of the reader. But, again, relevance seems to be the key point, particularly cultural relevance.
Marketers should pay attention to the issue of relevance. Are the publications in which they are advertising relevant to the lives of the consumers they cater to? Being Hispanic/Latino in the United States is a unique EXPERIENCE. Serving the needs of that experience and identity creates relevance. Relevance sells publications. Advertising in those publications, if also relevant, can be successful in connecting with us.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Births vs. Immigration: The New Hispanic Marketing Challenge

A review of the US Bureau of the Census data shows that the increase of the US Hispanic population is now highly driven by births rather than immigration contrary to past patterns. The following table contains data from the 2008 American Community Survey of the US Bureau of the Census. It documents the nativity of US Hispanics by sex and age:

United States
Margin of Error
Under 18 years:
Foreign born
18 years and over:
Foreign born
Under 18 years:
Foreign born
18 years and over:
Foreign born
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2008 American Community Survey

While the above figures are unlikely to include all undocumented individuals, it provides directional guidance as to the developments in US Hispanic growth. All Latinos in the US under 18, males and females were at the time of the study 34% of the population, an impressive proportion that further emphasizes the youth of this market. 

Within those under 18 years of age, a staggering 91% were native born, and that provides a good indication of what type of growth to expect in the near future. Sixty-six percent were those 18 years of age and older. Among that older segment 53% were foreign born. While foreign born are still the adult majority, the obvious likelihood is that they will suffer further declines in favor of their native born counterparts. 

Marketing implications include:

- Young people will become more influential in purchase decision for the household as these US born kids have more experience with US products and services and the overall consumer landscape.

- These young people will claim a new identity that marketers will need to understand if they are to touch their feelings and thoughts. This new identity will be the product of roots from Latin America, influences from the US, and the synergy of living a Latino life in the United States.

- These overwhelming changes in population trends should compel media content producers, advertisers, and marketers to better cater to a new emergent way of being.