The Hispanic Youth Market - Too Big To Ignore

As the breakout research report written by Morgan Stanley's teenage intern-turned-analyst Matthew Robson showed this month, marketers are very interested in understanding the youth market. This fascination with the teen market also carries over to the world of Hispanic advertising and rightfully so. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanic youth represent 20% of the total U.S. teen population. In fact, more than one-third of all U.S. Hispanics are 18 or younger, and half of all Hispanics in the U.S. are under 26.

If you look more closely at the Hispanic youth market, it's clear that it is different from the rest of the Hispanic population most of us have made a living marketing to during the last 30 years. For instance, 80% of Hispanic youth are U.S.-born (source: The Institute for Health Policy Studies, UCSF). For the most part, this group is bilingual, going in and out of languages because its members grew up speaking Spanish at home but were educated in English. Yet most cannot read or write Spanish.

They are already an economic force to be reckoned with, wielding a purchasing power of $25 billion (source: HispanicMPR.com) - or more than half of the total purchasing power of the overall U.S. Hispanic market. In fact, Hispanic youth are driving a major demographic shift in the overall youth population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 10 years, 62% of all teens will be Hispanic.

So if you plan on marketing to the youth of America now and especially in the future, you better figure the Hispanic youth market.

In 2008, the Intelligence Group released an in-depth psychographic study of the Hispanic youth market, "2008 Latino Lifestyle Study." It highlighted four key insights about Hispanic youth:

  • "The 40% Perception." When asked what percentage of the U.S. they believe is Hispanic, the average of all responses was 40% (the actual Census figure is 15%).
  • "Latina Rising." Young Latinas feel empowered and excited about the independence and choices they have (a big difference from previous generations).
  • "Cautious Optimism." Young Hispanics are largely optimistic and social. They more likely to say they are "happy" compared to non-Latinos (63% versus 53%).
  • "Social Networking." There is no statistical difference between Hispanic youth and the general youth population in relation to their heavy use of social media like Facebook.

A lot of marketers have taken to a new moniker for this rising demographic - "New General Latinos" or NGLs. NGLs are a different animal. They're all about lifestyle activators - music, food, entertainment, literature and travel - more so than education, hard work and the "American Dream." They are extroverted, outgoing, outspoken and, above all, wired. They are defined by culture, not exclusively by language - at least not the Spanish language. They have tremendous Latin pride, and social networking is a starting point for their large web of social interactions.

So how do you reach them? The top three media consumed by Hispanic youth are 1) the Internet, 2) TV and 3) radio. The first two shouldn't surprise anyone. However, Hispanic youth have shown a stronger connection to radio than their non-Latino friends. According to the Radio Advertising Bureau, Hispanic teens listen to 23% more radio per week than the general teen market. Equally important, they don't read newspapers, rarely pick up magazines and don't watch Spanish-language TV.

So, where should advertisers start in trying to reach this elusive, rapidly growing segment? Anyone who has worked in the trenches will tell you that this is a moving target, and experimentation is a must. There are no silver bullets in reaching young Hispanics. The good news is that the media landscape and technology have evolved so rapidly in the last 10 years that we now have the tools necessary to engage this audience. I suggest the following:

1. Start with key entry points. Social and music are usually good starters.

2. Use multiple platforms (i.e., radio, digital, TV, street). Take advantage of the fact that more and more Hispanic and lifestyle media companies now offer multiple platforms in-house

3. Target, target, target. Online and increasingly offline channels offer all kinds of targeting capabilities (geographic, contextual, behavioral, demographic). Leverage them early and often.

4. Test emerging media. This group is often way ahead of our media planning tools, so always mix in emerging platforms.

The face of American is changing and, with it, so is advertising. Hispanic marketing professionals have a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of a massive shift in the advertising and media industry.

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1 comment about "The Hispanic Youth Market - Too Big To Ignore ".
  1. Luis Jimenez from @luchito , July 18, 2009 at 2:02 a.m.

    We've found that when dealing with the youth market there is less of a need to create separate messaging to reach Hispanic youth, given that their media consumption habits and psychographics mirror those of their general market counterparts. This is more evident when targeting urban youth. So to me, the youth market is the youth market. If we learned anything from Matthew Robson is that "99% of teenagers have a mobile phone and most are quite capable phones." Where does mobile fit in the picture?