Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Below The Topline: U.S. Hispanics and Acculturation

SUMMARY: The U.S. added nearly 1.2 million persons of Hispanic origin to the population between 2007 and 2008, raising the Hispanic population from 15.1% to 15.4%. And new Hispanic immigrants are expected to continue to come in large numbers for the foreseeable future. Since a large share of the Hispanic population in the U.S. will continue to be new immigrants and their second generation children, the acculturation process may not happen has quickly or as thoroughly as with past immigrant groups. Marketers need to be acutely aware of both language and acculturation matters when crafting marketing strategies.

Marketers looking to tap into high-growth population segments should turn their attention to the U.S. Hispanic segment, which grew at a rate 3.4 times higher than the total population between 2007 and 2008 and nearly ten times higher than the non-Hispanic white population. Over half of all U.S. population growth during this time came from Hispanics, raising Hispanics to 15.4% of total U.S. population—a year-over-year growth rate of more than 2.6%.

Continued growth
In fact, that trend is expected to continue. Projections show the Hispanic population will reach nearly 20% by 2020 and over 30% by 2050—making Hispanics no longer a niche market, but a mainstream one. And unlike immigrant populations from the first part of the 20th century—when immigration laws stopped the inflow of people from countries such as Italy, Ireland and Poland—new Hispanic immigrants are expected to continue to come in large numbers for the foreseeable future, making the acculturation process much slower than it was for previous generations.

For marketers, careful attention around both language and acculturation are essential to success. While these concepts are closely related, they are quite different. Language may be necessary for acculturation, but even Hispanics with excellent English-language skills may still respond more favorably to advertising that is in the Spanish language or messaging that shows various aspects of Hispanic culture. Marketers must shift their focus from thinking about whether Hispanics can understand their advertising to creating campaigns that speak to the heart of the Hispanic consumer in the U.S.

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