When you’re in business -- whether it’s selling cars or building houses-- you often get caught up in the day-to-day of the work you do and lose sight of the changes going on around you. It happens to all of us. It’s the old adage of not being able to see the forest for the trees.
This happens to those of us who work in Hispanic marketing. We’re so busy trying to launch the next client campaign, or land the next new business pitch, we’re too busy putting together that media plan, or writing that brief, that we don’t have the time -- or more importantly the spare attention -- to stop and look at changes happening around us. We miss some of the things happening right in front of us that can tell us a lot about where things are going in our industry, with our consumers, and with the culture we so often try to influence on behalf of our clients.
So as we start a new year, I thought I would try to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day and share some of the things I’ve been noticing around me and what I think they portend for the future of Hispanic marketing.
Real “Hispanic” political clout post-2012 election
Sometimes you need the unexpected to happen to get people’s attention. The 2012 election cycle brought with it more attention than ever to the growing influence of the Hispanic population. However, when the voting was complete, I think the political establishment – at least those outside the inner confines of the Obama 2012 campaign machine – was surprised to see how big a turnout there really was among Hispanics in November. No one ever questioned the size of the population – however, I would say that most of the professional political class worked under an assumption I also espoused, that turnout and apathy would continue to limit the true impact of the Hispanic voter.
With the apathy argument gone and a clear view of the impact Hispanics had on election outcomes – just look at the Florida presidential results – I believe Hispanics now have true political “capital” particularly in Washington, D.C. An example of the short-term effect of this new capital will likely be some form of immigration reform in 2013, which will have all sorts of intended and unintended consequences on the business of Hispanic marketing. An example of the longer term impact will be a rapid “Hispanicization” of both major political parties, starting with the Republican party. Expect to see a flood of new Hispanic leaders being groomed and pushed through the party ranks at a rate never seen before.
Multicultural = Hispanic
Am I the only person who has noticed that term “multicultural” is increasingly becoming synonymous with Hispanic? It wasn’t that long ago that the term multicultural marketing referred to an organization’s marketing programs aimed at a variety of minority or nonwhite groups, such as African-Americans, Asians, and others. It’s hard to deny the slow, but steady decline in African-American focused marketing efforts over the last 15 years. While the Asian population has grown rapidly over the last 20 years, it has been unable to climb into that number 2 spot beyond the behemoth that seems to be eating up all the “multicultural” budgets – the Hispanic market.
Blurring of the lines between mainstream and Hispanic marketing
Remember the Spanglish Bud Light spot, developed by a Hispanic agency that ran during the Super Bowl a few years back? That was a big deal. I have noticed a steady increase in the amount of Hispanic creative running in general-market media over the last two years. Not to mention the crossover, cross-cultural work that seems to be growing in prominence, most of which is targeting younger Millennial groups. I know from my own new business experiences during the last 12 months that more brands are expressing an interest in consolidating and integrating this general market and Hispanic advertising. I think we are on the precipice of a huge shift in the ad business.
Growing trend towards retroacculturation and increased bilingualism.
Maybe I am looking at a skewed sample – as the Hispanic parent of two young children – but I continue to be amazed at how many parents, most of them either second or third generation Hispanics, are raising their children to be bilingual or speak Spanish first. We all know retro-acculturation is a real phenomenon that has been around for many years. However, I venture to say retro-acculturation is taking hold faster and spreading more rapidly than ever before. You need only look at the explosion in availability of bilingual children’s books for a supporting data point. With this adoption of Spanish comes an increased attachment to Hispanic cultural traditions – whether they are food, music, or family dynamics. I think the cohort of second and third generation Hispanics coming of age during the next 10-15 years in the U.S. will look very different than their counterparts 20 years ago.
Increased diversification of the Hispanic market – demographic, geographic, psychographic
All Hispanic marketers bemoan the tendency to try to portray the Hispanic market as monolithic. Hispanics come from more than 20 different countries, with distinct cultural, ethnic and national backgrounds. However, I’ve noticed the differences in the Hispanic market growing at what I consider to be a faster pace than ever before. The first is demographic, as the Hispanic population is getting younger, more U.S-born, and more educated than ever before. The second is geographic, as the Hispanic population rapidly shifts to new parts of the U.S. The Southeastern U.S. in many ways is the new hotbed of Hispanic population growth. Finally, anytime you have a population of 50 million people spread all over a country as vast as the U.S. from 20+ different countries, simple psychographic segmentation models simply to start to break.
Hispanic shift towards new media
We’ve all seen the reports on Hispanic over-indexing on digital device adoption. I’ve mentioned this many times before based on my anecdotal observations of Hispanics adopting advanced digital technologies. The last few months I’ve seen it more. As an example, I was at a construction site a few weeks back where a group of Spanish-dominant, recent immigrant Hispanic men were all listening to Spanish music on the job site – via Pandora running on a smartphone connected to a mobile speaker unit. Again, I believe we are on the precipice of a huge shift in media consumption behavior by Hispanics toward personalized, digital and mobile media channels.
A market evolving faster than its marketers
The aforementioned observations may not constitute a sound scientific experiment from which to make huge pronouncements about an entire industry. However, these observations, taken in their sum, do provide directional trend lines and generate questions to be potentially answered with follow-on research. They also indicate to me that the Hispanic market is evolving faster and changing more fundamentally than it ever has before. The same can be said of the general market and the typical American consumer. But when you look at the mainstream advertising and digital marketing industry, and compare it to the Hispanic marketing industry, you see a major gap in innovation.