Many marketers opened their eyes to the importance of the Hispanic consumer in the United States after the 2010 Census numbers reported the exponential growth of the Hispanic population (reaching 50 million). But as the Hispanic population continues to grow and acculturate in the United States, marketers need to overcome misperceptions about Hispanics. CMOs who want to understand this crucial market need to understand these five largely overlooked realities:

  1. Hispanics are younger than the average American.  Any brand engaged in short- and long-term planning needs to take into account young Hispanics. The face of young America is changing, and it is becoming much more diverse. While Hispanics represent 16 percent of the total U.S. population, 23 percent of children under 17 in the United States are Hispanic.  
  2. The majority of Hispanics are born in the United States. Despite frequent portrayals in the media of Hispanics as recent immigrants who only speak Spanish, 52 percent of Hispanics were born in the United States. Births (not immigration) are driving the growth of the Hispanic population. It is projected that from 2010 to 2050, the Hispanic population will grow by 167 percent versus 1 percent  for non-Hispanic whites. Forty six percent of U.S. Hispanics speak only English at home and consume media mainly in English.
  3. Hispanics’ purchasing power now exceeds $1 trillion. Not only do Hispanics comprise 23 percent of consumer purchasing power in the United States, but Hispanics’ consumer spending has recently led U.S. market growth in the food business, education and entertainment segments during recent years of a stagnant economy. The purchasing power of Hispanics should grow as educational attainment and entrepreneurial activity among Hispanics increase and as more Hispanics enter the workforce. 
  4. Hispanics are early adopters of technology, highly engaged in social media, and over-index in online use.  Despite lower rates of access to home broadband Internet, Hispanics outpace non-Hispanics in the use and adoption of the Internet for news, entertainment, and socializing. Hispanics have the highest tablet adoption, have a higher engagement in social media, and are more avid users of wireless and broadband, both in mobile and at home.
  5. The new Hispanic defies labels and categories. The days of addressing marketing to Hispanics with one Spanish ad campaign are through. Hispanics draw their identities from many different categories, such as country of origin, generation, preferred language, cuisine, music, and traditions. These identities exist in a spectrum – and any U.S. Hispanics may feel more or less Hispanic and more or less American than the other.

Marketers are responding to this shift in the American consumer. Many are waking up to the complexities of U.S. Hispanics’ cultural identity, their purchasing power, and the huge opportunity to reach out to U.S. Hispanics through digital marketing.

With more Hispanics born in the United States, brands will thrive when they can relate to and understand the many layers that influence and represent this younger, more diverse generation — a multicultural generation with both Pitbull and Arcade Fire on their iPods, and a generation that loves peanut butter and jelly as much as rice and beans.

Gabriela Lazzaro is Senior Audience Manager in the iCrossing Live Media Studio.


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