Latin Rising In America
Beyond Jennifer Lopez and her role on “American Idol,” it's clear that Latin influence is growing in America. This shouldn't be surprising, given the latest U.S. census that shows the Hispanic population is the nation's largest ethnic group, having grown 43 percent in the last decade (from 2000-2010) and with a spending power expected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2013. This influence is also likely driven by the growing strength of Brazil in the global economy. Marketers should take note -- with Latin rising, don’t be left behind.
Here are examples of the increasing Latin influence on America across the dimensions of food, fashion, pop culture, marketing, and retail.
- Beyond traditional Spanish and Mexican foods that have become Americanized, wonderful flavors such as Peruvian cuisine are gaining in popularity. Peruvian cuisine is one of this year’s top food trends.
- Latin sandwiches are also becoming popular. The Cuban sandwich is grilled and made with a uniquely formulated bread, mojo pork, sweet ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard spread. The Baura is Brazil’s traditional sandwich, made of roast beef, mozzarella cheese, tomato, and pickles. Watch for these to be popping up in more restaurants around the country.
- Closer to home and crossing into the mainstream, consider last year’s line extension from the Cheerios brand, Dulce de Leche, which ventured into Latin flavors.
- The Brazilian brand Havaianas has been gaining even more popularity in the last few years, having permanently landed in the U.S. in 2007. Over the last few decades, the company repositioned the brand from being a functional sandal to a fashion brand. As an example of the transition, back in 2004, the company made a special-edition sandal with jeweler H. Stern with an 18-karat gold finish and diamonds. The now famous maker of fun flip-flops representing the Brazilian lifestyle continues to look abroad for growth, having reached 28 percent of growth from exports in the last year and hoping this continues at a 30-40 percent clip.
- Another Brazilian brand making inroads is Melissa. The maker of brightly colored plastic shoes boasts designs from the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier. Earlier this year the company opened its first gallery outside of Brazil in New York’s Soho neighborhood.
- Sofia Vergara is the new pop culture “It Girl.” These days we see her face far beyond the Modern Family television show, appearing in magazines and Diet Pepsi ads and even selling her own fashion line at Kmart.
- Zumba, the Latin American-inspired exercise program, has taken America by storm. Created by Colombian Alberto Perez, a choreographer and fitness instructor, Zumba has grown from 1 million students to 12 million in just the last four years. It now even has its own Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect video games -- proof of the Latin influence crossing into the mainstream.
- Latin alternative music is also on the rise, with music fans of English and Spanish languages discovering new artists in live venues, online via podcasts, and on the likes of Pandora, which has expanded its repertoire of Latin alternative songs. Starbucks has also given its nod to the scene with its album release in June, Café Con Música. The CD was created in partnership with Nacional Records and represents artists from the U.S. (Bronx, New York; San Francisco, California), Europe (Barcelona, Spain), and South America (Uruguay and Chile).
- Salma Hayek is one of the latest stars of the “Got Milk?” campaign, appearing in both TV and print media, encouraging people to drink milk and eat their breakfast. Given her popularity and ethnicity, for the first time ever in the campaign’s history, the same actress will be used in both English and Spanish-speaking ads.
- This May, Macy’s honored Brazil with its first country-focused campaign in years. Attracted by the country’s culture and traditionally bright colors, the campaign includes special shops called “O Mercado, The Market at Macy’s,” which feature goods all from Brazilian designers ranging from apparel to jewelry to home accessories.
The lesson for marketers
With the Hispanic and Latin populations growing in America, there’s no question that these consumer groups demand marketers' attention. In addition to considering these groups’ specific needs, the examples cited here demonstrate that Latin rising can be applied to a host of categories, bringing Latin influence to all Americans, and can serve as inspiration to build ideas that are relevant to a marketer’s brand and products.