While older, foreign-born Latinos tend to prefer media in their mother tongue, younger Latinos -- both those born abroad and in the U.S. -- are not nearly as focused on Spanish-language content, according to the Maximo Report, a new study co-sponsored by MTV Tr3s and conducted by Motivo Insights and the New Generation Latino Consortium.
However, the study, based on quantitative and qualitative surveys of around 1,150 Hispanics ages 14-34, shows that young "bicultural" Latinos still want to see media portraying people resembling themselves in terms of ethnicity and lifestyle.
Among other findings, the Maximo Report discovered that 30% of young, bicultural Latinos actively seek out "mainstream" English-only content, while 50% seek content that could be defined as bicultural or bilingual. But the language factor isn't nearly as significant for them as it is for older Latino adults.
Indeed, about 70% said they like to see English-language ads appearing on predominantly Spanish-language TV channels. Instead, they look for programming where "they are the star," "their lives, entertainment interests and issues are authentically represented," and "their American and Latino sides meet," according to the report summary.
Nancy Tellet, senior vice president of research and consumer insights for Viacom International Media Networks Latina America, Canada & US Hispanic, stated: "As bilingual/bicultural Hispanics begin to dominate the younger portion of the adult Hispanic segment in addition to their current dominance in the teen segment, deepening our knowledge on how they express their Latinicity beyond language, and understanding their unique habits and interests will be crucial for the Tr3s brand and Hispanic marketers."
Noting both the diversity of national origins among Latino immigrants and the increasing proportion of American-born Latinos who grow up speaking English, multicultural marketers have long argued that simply introducing Spanish-language versions of content will not be sufficient to engage Latino consumers.
The mere fact that content is in Spanish does not guarantee it will resonate with an audience composed of many different cultural backgrounds. Conversely, Spanish-language content doesn't exert the same pull on younger Latinos who are comfortable in both languages.
The Maximo Report includes a number of other interesting findings. For example, young Latinos feel they are better-equipped to deal with adverse economic conditions than most Americans. They are also more likely to both offer and heed peer-to-peer, word-of-mouth recommendations about products and services. (A majority of those surveyed said they had learned about a new product or service through social media.)