Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, and as just about everyone knows, by mid-century the U.S. will have more Spanish speakers than any other country. Spanish will be second only to Chinese worldwide in terms of the number of speakers.
Unfortunately, the cultural cues that marketers have traditionally relied upon to define Hispanics are becoming less and less relevant, according to a new study from The Futures Company (a three-year-old joint venture of Henley Centre, headlightVision and Yankelovich), "Hispanics in 2025."
The company says this weakening of Latino culture will be coupled with the "strengthening pull of the market forces of mainstream society."
The study, part of the Future Perspectives series of white papers, argues that family, religious affiliation, economic station, and immigration are waning in importance. The study says there are eight elements that will define the Hispanic market 14 years from now. The firm says "navigation" -- where to go, how to get there and what to do along the way -- and "curation" -- supplying acculturated Hispanics with a context for expressing their Hispanic identity -- will supplant mere "association" with Hispanic culture that has been the basis of marketing efforts directed at Hispanics until now.
"There are many reasons to wonder whether the up-and-coming generation of Hispanics will be able to get by without adding some dimensionality beyond Latino culture to its definition of identity and success," said J. Walker Smith, executive chairman and author of the report, in a statement. "Economic necessity and market forces are going to present them with the need to cultivate more mainstream routes to success."
The report also delineates eight sub-segments of the U.S. Hispanic population reflecting the pressures of roots and culture versus market forces. The company distributes the eight segments among quadrants defined by the intersection of "acculturation" and "accordance" continuums. The latter refers to the degree to which a Hispanic American is in accordance with market pressures. The study predicts that the segments will be weighted toward acculturated Hispanics whose allegiances are to the market rather than to traditional cultural pressures. Two of the segments in a quadrant are defined by least in accordance with the larger market and least acculturated. Two Hispanic segments will be acculturated but not aligned with the market.
Smith said the bottom line is that the difference between now and 14 years from now is not just quantitative. "It is not simply more of what we see in the marketplace today. The marketplace itself will be tougher, yet also richer in diversity, sharper in distinctiveness and more generous in possibilities. But much more than Latino culture alone will matter."