New Generation Latinos -- It's All About The Numbers In 2011

When the New Generation Latino Consortium (NGLC) was founded, there was still a lot of confusion about what to even call New Generation Latinos (NGL's). Descriptive terms such as urban, English-dominant, bilingual, bi-cultural, acculturated, U.S.-born, Latino youth and even "Hurban" (Hispanic urban), were among the favorites. In truth all of these terms are applicable, but the NGLC decided on New Generation Latino for the basic reason that it was clear that U.S.-born Latinos merited their own media, marketing and entertainment initiatives beyond simply being defined by language alone.

The hurdle then and even today, however, is the difficulty in assigning a budget or producing a piece of creative, TV show or film that speaks directly to such a complex moving target. At the recent MPG Collaborative, I even went so far as to quantify the different hypothetical combinations that could make up an NGL's profile. If one were to multiply 21 different Hispanic nationalities by 4 U.S. Hispanic generations, 2 language stratifications (English and bilingual), 5 core U.S. Hispanic regions (New York, Chicago, Miami, Texas and California), 3 migration motives (economic, political, familial) and 3 core demos under 40 (14-17, 18-24, 25-34), it comes out to 7,560 possible combinations that could define the "NGL experience." Not exactly a one-size-fits-all demographic and psychographic profile.

My point in doing this exercise was not to calculate the exact number of NGL "segments," but rather to illustrate how confusing the NGL audience could be, especially to those who are new to investing in our market. In a year when the U.S. Census is going to confirm without a doubt (once again) that NGL's are driving both population growth and Hispanics' contribution to the U.S. economy, we are committed to helping those in media, marketing and entertainment fill in the information gaps surrounding how best to communicate with and reach this elusive audience.

With that in mind, here are some fast facts about NGL's:

  • U.S. Hispanic birth-to-death ratio is 8 to 1 (vs. 1 to 1 for white non-Hispanics)
  • 62% of U.S. Hispanics (or 29 million) are U.S.-born NGL's
  • 19 million Mexican-Americans alone are U.S.-born NGL's
  • Median age of U.S. Hispanics is 27 (vs. 41 for white non-Hispanics)
  • Median age of U.S.-born NGL's is 17 (vs. 37 for foreign-born Hispanics)
  • 88%+ of U.S. Hispanic children are second- or third-generation NGL's
  • 22% of all children in the U.S. under 18 are NGL's

Now comes the tricky part. Quantifying NGL's "fair share" of both U.S. Hispanic and General Market media expenditures. Here's the math as the NGLC sees it:

  • $6 billion is currently spent on U.S. Hispanic media
  • $6 billion is approximately 5% of the $117 billion total U.S. ad spend
  • Yet U.S. Hispanics are approximately 15% of the total U.S. population
  • $184 million is spent on U.S. Hispanic cable TV networks
  • Assuming a liberal $100 million of that $184 million is spent on NGL TV networks, it represents approximately 1.7% of the $6 billion U.S. Hispanic ad spend
  • Yet U.S.-born NGL's represent 62% of all U.S. Hispanics

To recap, that's a 1.7% NGL spend vs. NGL's 62% contribution to the U.S. Hispanic population!

Clearly, there are many ways these numbers can be sliced up and different assumptions that can be made. Again, my point is not to deduce an exact NGL "fair share" number, but rather to illustrate how lopsided this situation is. My hope is that in a Census year when the profile of the U.S. Hispanic market is going to be off the charts, we as an industry can aim higher.

Rather than focusing on how the $6 billion pie is going to be divided up and doled out, our position is that we should focus on the much larger $117 billion pie and question why more dollars are not earmarked for U.S. Hispanics as a whole. At last check, we've been short-changed about $12 billion to get our total market "fair share."

In order to hit that mark, we'd certainly have to include Spanish-dominants, bilinguals, English-dominants and all 7,650 combinations in between. There has never been a better time for the U.S. Hispanic market to come together and push this discussion forward. Here are some of the items that we'll be talking about at our conference in April and throughout the year. Our hope is that the rest of our industry will join us in a dialogue around these critically important action steps.

  • Better define "U.S. Hispanic fair share"
  • Increase spending on NGL TV networks and other NGL media outlets
  • General Market ad spend reflective of NGL's population contribution
  • Work towards better TV measurement tools reflective of NGL's
  • Media buying and planning based on cultural skews (not just language)
  • Culturally relevant Hispanic ads appearing in General Market media
  • Clients strategizing early on about cultural brand skews and positions
  • Higher percentage of digital ad dollars allocated to 30 million+ U.S. Hispanics online
  • Dedicated Hispanic market B2B events (at the ANA level)
  • Executive-level Hispanics at "the table" within Fortune 500's, agencies and media outlets

In the 10 years that have passed since the last Census, U.S. Hispanics' numbers have grown astronomically. For perspective, see the 2000 Census numbers indicating that U.S.-born NGL's represented 60% of the U.S. Hispanic population even back then. There is every indication that this percentage will be on the up-tick when the 2010 Census numbers are revealed.

As it was a decade ago, NGL's are the key driver of U.S. Hispanic growth and, therefore, hold the key to unlocking our market's larger contribution to the worlds of media, marketing and entertainment. Now is the time to push this agenda forward to fully realize the potential of the entire U.S. Hispanic market and not just a sliver of it.

Tags: hispanics
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1 comment about "New Generation Latinos -- It's All About The Numbers In 2011 ".
  1. Harold Cabezas from Cabezas Communications , January 27, 2011 at 2:59 p.m.

    Well-written, David! I hope to see you at the conference this year and expect these statistics will help the NGLC market more than ever before.

    "62% of the US Hispanic market is born in the USA." ~ That right there, is the big one.