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The Super Bowl of Demographics

by Gus Razzetti on March 17, 2011

The United States Census results generate high expectations; attracting both experienced Hispanic advertisers – the “aficionados” – and newcomers, the “casual fans.” Every 10 years, representation in Congress and the distribution of $400 billion each year in federal funds are at stake.

However, for marketers, the Census data has a whole other meaning. And this is even truer for Hispanic marketing, getting everybody riled up, making predictions, and placing bets on what to expect. While changes in population do not happen all at once, the Super Bowl of demographic surveys has been the major event supporting the growing interest in the Latino market. Take ad investment for example. In 2002, the year after the 2000 Census results were released, Hispanic ad investment soared to $3.4 billion, a 27.4 percent growth compared to the 4 percent growth in the previous year.

The Faces That Are Building America

The total U.S. population reached 308,745,538 in 2010, an increase of 8.8 percent versus 2000. Interesting to note, if we eliminate the Hispanic population numbers, America’s population growth would have been about half of that: 4.9 percent. And if we do the same exercise, state by state, in some cases when subtracting the growth driven by Hispanics, some states would have shown a decrease in population. Needless to say, if you want to grow your business, you better be targeting Latinos.

Although the final results won’t be ready until around March 20, the bits and pieces of Hispanic census data that have already been released are sufficient to describe the new picture of Latinos in America: Hispanics are suspected to grow by 29.2 percent and make up 53.3 percent of the total population growth. Not only are they leading population growth as predicted, Hispanic numbers are exceeding projections.

The New Picture of Latinos in America

Growth is not the only thing that the 2010 Census results will be showing. There are new dynamics going on that will have a huge impact in the way we do marketing to Latinos. Comparing the past three decades, the shift is pretty clear:

razzettihispanicdma

  • Hispanics’ presence is spreading out beyond the traditional DMA. The notion of focusing on the top 10 DMA is no longer true.
  • Hispanic purchasing power in the U.S. is growing dramatically, reaching $1 trillion in 2010. The chart above shows the progressive increase over the years in Hispanic households earning a higher income.
  • The composition of the Hispanic audience is becoming more dynamic. The growth in the ’90s was heavily impacted by foreign born. While in the last decade the growth has been driven mostly by U.S.-born (second generation) Latinos, the incidence of foreign-born is still higher than in the ’80s, keeping the cultural connection alive.
  • More than three-fourths of Hispanics still speak Spanish at home. Though language fluency and preference differs by acculturation level, multigenerational households and upholding traditions are driving bilingualism.
  • Traditional Hispanic DMAs continue to grow but are basically driven by U.S.-born Latinos. In traditional Hispanic markets like New Jersey and Illinois, the Hispanic populations grew by 39.2 percent and 32.5 percent with total populations in these states growing only 4.5 percent and 3.3 percent. In Texas, Latinos make up 37.6 percent of the total population, a number that represents 41.8 percent growth and contributes to 65 percent of the state’s total population growth.
  • Non-traditional Hispanic DMAs are experiencing dramatic growth driven by foreign-born Latinos. Markets such as Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia grew by 78.7 percent, 105.9 percent, and 91.7 percent respectively. Comparatively, the total population in these states only grew by 1.4 percent, 4.3 percent, and 13 percent. In Oregon, the Latino population grew by 64 percent, compared to the total population growth of 12 percent. Hispanics were also major contributors to population growth in other non-traditional Hispanic markets such as Iowa, Maryland, Oklahoma, Indiana, Arkansas, and Vermont.

Implications for Marketers

For the “aficionados,” it might be time to expand their efforts beyond the traditional Hispanic DMAs. Spanish media follows the Hispanic population long before the Census data is released and it’s surprising to note that cities such as Kansas City, Little Rock, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, and Nashville are all fully-equipped with Spanish-language newspaper, radio, and broadcast.

Aficionados also have the unique opportunity of strengthening their marketing efforts in traditional Hispanic DMA targeting bicultural, bilingual Hispanics. U.S.-born Hispanics, while easier for them to navigate both English language and U.S. culture, keep strong connections with their Latino culture and don’t follow the same response patterns as a regular American.

For “casual fans,” the traditional DMA with a growing second generation with higher use of technology sets the opportunity for very effective and efficient test marketing by leveraging digital and new media.

Both aficionados and newcomers should consider the “new Latino DMAs” as a perfect testing ground that is less costly to operate.

As the consumer base continues to grow, as well as its purchasing power, Hispanics are becoming more sophisticated, educated, and affluent consumers. There is a big opportunity for technology products (mobile phones, tablets, etc.) as well as luxury goods to grow their business by targeting Latinos. The same from an engagement standpoint; we need to go beyond advertising to effectively tap into this mobile, digital, and bicultural consumer.

So, if you really want to become a Latino marketing aficionado, you don’t need to wait for the next Super Bowl of demographics. The game of Latino marketing happens every week.

This post was originally published on ClickZ.com

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