Texas' Hispanic population is the second largest in the nation. Nearly 8.4 million Hispanics reside in Texas, 19% of all Hispanics in the United States, according to a Pew Hispanic Center Study, conducted in March of 2008. Six of the top 25 counties (pop> 500,000) in Texas are “majorityminority” counties.
While the majority of Texas Latinos share a common Mexican heritage, the state’s Hispanic market is much more unique and diverse than it first appears. Some of this is due to the state’s History, and some is due to the sheer size of the state and the land which it comprises.
Being a border state has a great impact on the sense of Latino identity, says Miguel Serrano, Consumer Insight and Strategic Planning Manager for Houston-based Lopez Negrete: “Given the state’s history as former Mexican territory, there is a prevailing attitude among many Latinos that ‘We didn’t cross the border; the border crossed us.” Serrano says that as a result, the state’s Hispanic population has a closer connection to their surroundings and to their place in those surroundings.
Loida Ruiz, Sales Director for the Houston weekly La Voz, adds, “Perhaps the most striking aspect of the state’s Hispanic population is its range of acculturation. We have Latinos who have been her for five generations, and others who have just arrived.” Lopez Negrete’s Miguel Serrano agrees: “There’s an incredible diversity in market composition.”
With over 2 million Latinos living there, Houston has the larges Hispanic population in Texas, and the fourth largest in the country. The city has a predominately foreign-born Latino population: 62% of the city’s Hispanic population was born outside the US, while 38% are U.S born. Due to this high proportion of 1st generation Hispanics, the city has a less acculturated population than San Antonio, where many of the Hispanics are 3rd, 4th, or even 5th generation and much more acculturated in the normal sense of the word.
With a purchasing power of $27 billion, Houston is the 6th largest Hispanic market in the country, according to the 2008 U.S. Diversity Markets Report, with Hispanics comprising 38% of the city’s total population. “We are a border market, and share that border with Mexico, the country of origin of most US Hispanics. So the sense of estrangement or being in another country is different here. Even among undocumented Hispanics, you see less estrangement or sense of distance from the home country,” says Serrano.
Houston has a strong Spanish-language classifieds market, with two publications— La Subasta and Buena Suerte—covering this niche.
In October of 2008, Impremediaowne Rumbo doubled its circulation in Houston, while discontinuing its editions in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley.
The area is also home to over 1.75 million Latinos, making it a ripe media market for local and national advertisers. The two main print properties in the city are Al Día and La Estrella.
Al Día greatly expanded its circulation last year. According to Isaac Lasky, “Al Día’s expanded circulation is in answer to the very rapidly expanding DFW Hispanic population. Being the only daily newspaper in the Dallas Ft. Worth metropolitan area we found an underserved market and advertisers told us that a larger circulation was important to reach critical mass and be able to capture this dynamic market segment.”
San Antonio is in South Central Texas, approximately 140 miles northwest of the Gulf of Mexico and 150 miles south to the Mexican Border.
With 1.25 million Hispanics living there, San Antonio is Texas’ third largest Hispanic market. With a purchasing power of $18 billion, San Antonio is the 9th largest Hispanic market in the country, according to the 2008 U.S. Diversity Markets Report. San Antonio’s Hispanic population is regarded as the most acculturated in the state, due to the higher proportion of 3rd, 4th, and 5th generation Hispanics there. About three quarters of the city’s Hispanic population is U.S. born.
San Antonio is also home to major business centers of the following companies: Microsoft, Washington Mutual, World Savings (now Wachovia), the National Security Agency, Valero Corp., Chase, Argonaut, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Citibank, The Capital Group, Johnson Controls, Maxim and Boeing. Until June of last year, AT&T’s global headquarters was located here, before it moved to Dallas.
With Latinos comprising 80% of the overall population, the Southern Texas city of McAllen is one of those places where the Hispanic market is the general market. “We’re more tied to Mexico than most other Texas markets, given our proximity and the fact that we get a great deal of cross-border business.
We get a lot of Mexican business, mostly for our retailers like JC Penney, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart,” says Jerry Pequeno, Project Coordinator at the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “The Hispanic community is growing by 5,000 to 10,000 per year, mostly Mexicans,” says Pequeno.
“Ecuadoreans and Nicaraguans are also growing in number, but largely assimilate into the Mexican Hispanic community, instead of forming their own communities.” The city’s main newspapers are The Monitor (Bilingual), and the Valley Morning Star and the Town Crier, both of which are Spanish-language. A new Spanish-language online newspaper called Que Pasa launched last year, as well.
San Antonio and McAllen are also much more concentrated with Hispanics of Mexican origin whereas Dallas and Houston, although still having a strong Mexican presence, also have a strong Central and South American existence. Competition in El Paso's Spanish language newspaper market has increased in recent years. In May of 2005, Editora Paso del Norte, Inc., launched El Diario de El Paso (circ. 24,000, price $0.25), El Paso's first daily Spanish-language newspaper. The newspaper launch was a brand extension from Editora Paso del Norte Inc's Mexican newspaper, El Diario de Ciudad Juarez (circ. 70,000, daily). Editora Paso del Norte also publishes the weekly Looking at El Paso (free, English, circ. 25,000 of which 7,000 included in El Diario de El Paso.
A full 74% of El Paso's population of 800,000 is Hispanic. Across the Rio Grande river, Ciudad Juarez has a population of 1.7 million.
Texas is an interesting amalgam of Hispanic markets owing to the fact that it is characterized mainly by its dualities: The acculturated markets and the unacculturated markets; the Spanish-dominant vs. English dominant populations; U.S. born and foreign born Hispanics. Increasingly, however, these dualities are being supplanted by the middle ground of biculturalism. Single language dominance is giving way to increasing bilingualism, and the very definition of acculturation seems to be morphing from its traditional model of assimilation to an embracing of U.S. and Latin customs.
High levels of unemployment continue to be a scourge for many Tejanos.
While the national average is about 6.7 percent, the rate among Texan Hispanic markets is much higher Dallas and San Antonio are the markets with the highest percentage of employed Hispanics, whereas Houston and McAllen have the lowest percentages of the four markets. One explanation for this discrepancy could be that many of the Hispanics working in Houston and McAllen could be working without a working visas or permit.
Language continues to be an important consideration in reaching Texas Hispanics. At least 50% of Latinos in Houston, Dallas and McAllen are speaking only Spanish in their homes, according to the 2008 U.S. Diversity Markets Report. In San Antonio, however, 66% of the Latinos either are speaking English and Spanish equally or only English.
Tejanos are also characterized by a strong entrepreneurial streak. Texas Latinos launch businesses at a faster rate than other area racial or ethnic groups, driven by entrepreneurial zeal and necessity, according to an Iconoculture study.