Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hispanic Millennials: Implications for Marketing

The discourse on Latino Millennials, both in the online and in the offline literature, suggests that there is a great amount of similarity among those Hispanics born between 1980 and 2000. Also, that there is similarity between Hispanic and non-Hispanic Millennials.  While the exact years of birth vary by source, most of them are close to the 1980 - 2000 range.  From my point of view there is a fallacy involved in classifying Hispanics born in this age range as sharing a high degree of similarity both among themselves and when compared with non-Hispanics.  According to the Bureau of the Census about 37% of US Hispanics were born between 1980 and 2000.  That is a very substantive number of people. Are they similar in many ways?

The generational aggregation of people into assumed homogeneous populations is arbitrary at best.  Among Latinos this is even more arbitrary.  Let me explain.

In theory, for example, what makes “Baby Boomers” unique is that they are the post war generation.  It is understandable that those born in the US did have a large amount of shared experience as a consequence of being born at the end of the war.  But think about the case of Latinos.  Those born after the war in Latin America did not share the American experience.  Still they are referred to as “Baby Boomers.”  The same logical error applies to “Millennials.”  A large majority of them were born in Latin America and had very different experiences from those in the US.  

The history of the majority of Latinos born between 1980 and 2000 is greatly influenced by what was happening in their country of origin, their socio-economic circumstances, life-stage, etc. As many readers know most Hispanics in the US are of Mexican origin.  Also, a great majority of this subset were brought by their parents in search of a better life in the US. They were mostly subsistence farmers and blue collar workers earning very little money.  That is very different from the experience of the American middle class. 

And as Randy Stockdale emphasizes "The age range is so wide, that by the time they get to the end of the spectrum (those born in '80) they have gone through 2-3 life stages. And this may differ by gender - Hispanic females likely married with kids, yet many men likely not." REFERENCE

What makes Hispanics ages 15 to about 35 somewhat similar is a history of seeing their parents strive to make the life of their children better.  A life of decreasing deprivation.  It has been a life of ambition and achievement.  Latino youth are not the kids that went back to their parents’ homes because of 9/11 or the downturn of 2008.  Many of these Latino kids never left the home of their parents but not because they were depending on them but because they were contributing to the economy of a traditional household.  A household that enjoys keeping the kids around as long as possible.  A current example of trends among Hispanic youth is in the following video: .

As one can see the young Latino has a unique perspective on the world shaped by many diverse experiences.  Clearly, Latinos are also tech savvy, multitaskers, collectivist, etc. but that has been a characteristic of Hispanics in general not just young people.

The lessons are:

  1. Generational groupings and generalizations are tricky and many times inaccurate
  2. Latinos have not gone through the same experiences as their non-Hispanic counterparts, thus generalizing to them can be misleading
  3. Young Hispanics come in many types and with diverse backgrounds.  Still, there are central tendencies based on experience, socio-economic background, and country of origin
  4. Marketers need to pay attention to the subtleties of different segments of the population and avoid costly mistakes by assuming homogeneity
  5. The “New Latino” is an important synergistic identity of not being from here or there, but shaped by the common experience of being different...  
  6. Marketers and market researchers will benefit from researching this new Latino identity and behavior
  7. Using giant clusters such as "Millennials" is not a segmentation approach but a way to avoid looking at important differences that can be used for effective targeting and communication

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Hispanics & Retirement Planning: A Marketing Perspective

Financial services companies in the United States have been lured by the promise of the growing Latino market.  Many have tried to engage Hispanic consumers with different financial services offerings.  Few have succeeded and it is likely that lack of historical and cultural knowledge have contributed to a patchy track record.

Retirement and the family
According to a 2014 study by Prudential 53% of Hispanics compared with 62% of the rest of the US population say that saving for retirement is an important priority. Retirement is a culturally derived concept.  Many Latinos still hold on to the value that retirement is a step in life in which they will be supported by the children they raised with so much care. They expect these children to be there for them.  Many anticipate retirement as a part of family life during which they will help take care of grandchildren and enjoy their “golden” years in a family environment.

It would never occur to many Latinos that their kids would place them in an institution.  The feeling of reciprocity for all they have done for the children is an important element of family trust.  This way of thinking is derived from Latin American tradition.  As one gets older new generations take over and assume responsibility for their elders. Thus retirement is not really a completely separate phase in the life of Latinos but a continuation of a way of life.

As Hispanics have generally helped support their children and many relatives and friends during their productive years, they believe these people will do the same for them in their old age.  Some are right but many are not as cultural and social norms evolve in the US.

Retirement and country of origin
Many Hispanics have immigrated to the US with the intention of returning “home” to rejoin family and friends.  They save for building a home back “home.”  Their intentions are to return but the dreams of return often become frustrated by the difficulties back “home,” and by their children’s integration in their new society.  The dream of going back “home” turns out to be a dream after all.  Many of these US born children share partly in the love for the country of origin of their parents but feel mostly at home in the US.  This is a struggle of generations and of frustrated dreams. Retirement back home is elusive.
Retirement and debt
It is generally known that Latinos are averse to debt.  This tendency has deep cultural roots that may trace its origin to the Arabic belief that lending and debt are taboos. The notion of only spending what you have is deeply embedded in the culture.  Only buying what you have the money for appears to still be prevalent among many.

This tendency stands in the way of saving for retirement as many Latinos prefer to spend their current assets as opposed to using them in the future. If these Hispanics believe that buying retirement is an important immediate goal, then they may be willing to accumulate savings for their future retirement. The incentive, however, for saving for retirement is not strong as long as they believe their family and friends will be there for them when they need it.

Retirement and saving behaviors
The Prudential study referred to above documents that pension plans and savings in general are less popular among Hispanics than among the rest of the population. For example 19% of Hispanics report having an Individual Retirement Account compared to 39% for the rest of the population.  

Lack of savings and participation in pension/retirement plans has to do with lack of resources, lack of education and information, and mistrust in these plans and programs.  As the affluence of Hispanics increases over time, their participation in savings and retirement related products will increase but they need to be educated and informed about these plans.  They must trust the institutions and those who sell the products.

What can marketers do?
As we indicate in our book “Hispanic Marketing: Connecting with the New Latino Consumer” sales personnel who understand the culture and are proactive in reaching out to Hispanics are likely to succeed.  These sales people or agents can have a powerful influence in how future generations of Latino retirees fare in their advanced years.

  1. Agents must become aware of the cultural barriers and sincerely involved in the Hispanic community in order to establish trust and engagement. If Hispanic consumers feel they have a true ally they will be willing to listen and purchase a savings product.  Not only that but these consumers are likely to spread the word among their friends and relatives about the quality of the agent.
  2. Agents need to be more personally involved in establishing relationships, going to homes, spending time with families, listening to needs, and genuinely trying to solve felt problems of their Latino customers.
  3. Agents need to spend time understanding the cultural nuances of these consumers and attempting to learn basic concepts in Spanish.  While the Spanish language may not be as fundamental for communication now as it was a few years ago, it still has strong emotional connotations that will more readily communicate the importance of savings and how life is changing for Latinos in the US.  The agent is as good as s/he can empathize with the Latino consumer.

Overall, there is ample opportunity for marketers of financial services to serve the Hispanic population.  The opportunity will only grow.  Establishing a foothold in the community is fundamental for future product and brand growth, but more importantly to assist Latinos with their retirement needs.  These needs will only grow as the population ages.

The moral of the story is:  Cultural knowledge and trust lead to success.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I am going to start believing this... Thank you!

Faculty, Students and Top Marketing Professionals To Honor the Lifetime Accomplishments of Hispanic Marketing Pioneer Dr. Felipe Korzenny

fsu1.gifFaculty and students at Florida State University and top marketing executives on the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication’s Advisory Board will honor the lifetime achievements of Dr. Felipe Korzenny at the Hispanic Media and Marketers Gala Dinner on Feb. 20.

Dr. Korzenny is an internationally recognized marketing research practitioner, social scientist, researcher, author and professor. In 2004, he founded The Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication (The Center) at FSU. His groundbreaking research, both in academia and business, helped revolutionize marketing practices geared toward Hispanics and other multicultural consumers. He is one of the most respected pioneers in the realm of Hispanic and multicultural marketing.
“As a researcher and as a teacher, no one has had been more influential in my life than Dr. Korzenny,” says Dr. Sindy Chapa, Associate Director of the Center and Assistant Professor at FSU. “He revolutionized our field. He is for most of us the greatest mind in consumer research, and I will gladly spend my career following in his footsteps.”
Dr. Korzenny’s most important accomplishment may be the way he has inspired students. He has groomed countless successful professionals and brought the best out of many young minds.

“I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without Dr. Korzenny,” says Katherine Cook, M.S., 2014. “I was stuck in a job that I didn’t like and where I wasn’t using either of my majors. After reading his book I was completely inspired. I knew that I had to work with him and Betty Ann (his wife.) So I packed up and moved to Tallahassee. I’m humbled by his dedication to mentor his students and to provide them with the opportunities to not only learn but to excel. Dr. Korzenny has been a true inspiration.”

Dr. Korzenny is not only revered by academics and students but by business and marketing leaders as well. The Center’s Advisory Board has always included a who’s who of industry leaders  including executives from Google, Coca-Cola, Netflix and the country’s top multicultural advertising and marketing agencies.
The gala, part of the 2015 Hispanic/Latino Media & Marketing International Conference, will begin at7:00 p.m., on Feb. 20, at the Donald Tucker Civic Center. All donations received will contribute to an endowment benefiting The Center and its students.

Dr. Felipe Korzenny
In the Fall of 2003, Dr. Korzenny, became Professor of Advertising and Integrated Marketing and Management Communication at FSU. In 2004 he founded and directed The Center. He holds degrees from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and Michigan State University (MSU). Prior to joining FSU, Dr. Korzenny founded Hispanic & Asian Marketing Communication Research (H&AMCR) to help Fortune 1000 companies open doors to culturally diverse markets. H&AMCR was one of the first companies in the U.S. to explore multicultural market research. In 1999, H&AMCR merged with Cheskin.

Dr. Korzenny is co-author with wife Betty Ann of Hispanic Marketing: A Cultural Perspective and Hispanic Marketing, 2nd Edition: Connecting with the New Latino Consumer. He has authored almost 100 research publications dealing with communication and culture. He is an Outstanding and also a Distinguished Alumni of MSU. He is the first recipient of the Hill Library HispanSource Award for Outstanding Achievement in Hispanic Marketing Research. He is a prominent speaker at nationwide symposiums and conferences on Hispanic markets. 

Hispanic/Latino Media & Marketing 2015 International Conference
The 2015 Hispanic/Latino Media & Marketing International Conference is a platform where global scholars present their research, findings and theories on the dynamics of the Hispanic/Latino media and markets in the United States, Latin America and Spain. It is the largest such meeting of academics, media professionals, and students worldwide. It includes top scholars and practitioners from Spain, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States.

The 2015 Conference will take place February 19-21 in Tallahassee, Florida at the Donald Tucker Civic Center, 505 West Pensacola Street. It is hosted by the FSU College of Communication & Information’s Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication.

For more information, visit

The Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication
The Center, founded by Dr. Felipe Korzenny in 2004, is devoted to educating students and professionals and to advancing knowledge in Hispanic and multicultural marketing. The Center is the first of its kind in the United States and is widely recognized as the nations’ premier education and research institute in the field. The Center’s programs are housed in FSU’s School of Communication.

Faculty and students working with the Center conduct groundbreaking research, produce publications that further the understanding of Hispanic consumer behavior, and serve as an innovative source of knowledge for the Hispanic marketing industry. The Center is lead by Founder and Director, Dr. Felipe Korzenny; Associate Director and Assistant Professor, Dr. Sindy Chapa; and Co-Founder and Senior Advisor, Dr. Betty Ann Korzenny, as well as by an Advisory Board comprising of top leaders in the industry.
For more information on The Center, visit 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Tenth Anniversary Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication, Florida State University, and International Media and Marketing Conference - February 19 - 21, 2015

Florida State University’s Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication celebrates its 10th anniversary and honors the pioneering leadership of founder Felipe Korzenny during the fifth annual International Conference on Hispanic/Latino Media and Marketing, which brings together marketing professionals and scholars from across the United States, Spain, and Latin America. The Center’s Board of Advisors, the FSU community and industry leaders will honor Dr. Korzenny at a special gala February, 2015.

“We are confident that business leaders from different industries will come together to support and celebrate Felipe, a pillar of Hispanic marketing and communications,” said Mark Lopez, head of U.S. Hispanic audience at Google and member of the Center’s Advisory Board.

In 2005 Korzenny founded FSU’s Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication, the preeminent academic program focused on training students and professionals in the field of U.S. Hispanic marketing and advertising.
“Dr. Korzenny and the Center have prepared hundreds of students and professionals who have demonstrated a passion for the trillion dollar Hispanic market and the opportunities it presents for companies, organizations and government institutions that need to connect with this market segment,” said Lawrence C. Dennis, dean of the School of Communication and Information. “In the decade since Dr. Korzenny started the program, faculty and students have worked tirelessly to conduct ground-breaking research and serve as an innovative resource for the Hispanic marketing industry.”

The gala honoring Korzenny’s career is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 20, from 7:00 -10:00 p.m. The conference will be hosted from Thursday, Feb. 19 to Saturday Feb. 21. The purpose of the conference is to educate and promote topics related to Hispanic marketing and Spanish media.  The conference will bring together leaders to share knowledge, increase awareness of trends, exchange ideas, and facilitate the collaboration between academia and industry.

“We look forward to gathering Hispanic marketing industry peers to celebrate Dr. Korzenny’s contributions, as well as sponsorship support to cultivate Korzenny’s vision while helping sustain the Center’s research, academic and scholarships programs,” said Sindy Chapa, associate director of the FSU Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication.  

For more information on the Korzenny Tribute weekend and the conference, contact: Mafé Brooks, director of development,

About The FSU Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication:
The Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University was founded by Dr. Felipe Korzenny in 2004. The Center’s programs are housed in the FSU School of Communication. The Center is the first of its kind in the United States devoted to educating students and professionals in the field. Faculty and students working with the Center are conducting ground-breaking research and serving as an innovative resource for the Hispanic marketing industry.

Recognizing the immediate need for professionals trained in Hispanic Marketing Communication, the Center’s goals focus on educating students to serve the Hispanic marketing industry; training professionals who currently serve the Hispanic market in the U.S.; conducting relevant research to further the understanding of the Hispanic market; and serving as a source of knowledge about the Hispanic market for industry professionals.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Please join us at the International Conference of Hispanic Media & Marketing at Florida State University this February

This February 19 - 21, Florida State University is hosting the International 2015 Conference of Hispanic/Latino Media & Marketing.  Dr. Sindy Chapa has been organizing this event in collaboration with a committee from academia and industry. The Conference will have panels and presentations in Spanish and English by many renowned scholars and marketing executives. It promises to be a grand event that links theory and practice and honors the importance of US Hispanics and Latin Americans.

During the conference my colleagues and students are having a gala dinner honoring my contributions to academia and industry. This is truly humbling. Still, it makes me very happy to know that the proceeds from attending the conference, the gala dinner, and any gifts to a new endowment in my name will go for the support of students and the research activities of the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication. This is a Center which I founded ten years ago to promote the study, research, and the practice of marketing to US Hispanics.  Please go to for more details on the event.

I am very pleased to leave the Center in the capable hands of Dr. Sindy Chapa as I retire from Florida State University in the near future. That does not mean I will stop supporting the Center in any way I can.  Also it does not mean that I will stop writing, consulting and doing research for organizations interested in connecting with US Latinos.

Please join us either in person or virtually.

the Center For Hispanic Marketing Communication, Florida State University