Millennials: Opportunity Amidst The Hype?

As in the general market, more and more Hispanic marketing attention is focused on the “coming of age” generational cohort known as Millennials. Hispanic Millennials generally refers to U.S. Hispanics born between 1981 and 2000 or 1980 and 1995 (ages 13-32 or 18-35). There are many variations of the definition used by market researchers and pundits. As with any large, relatively young generation that contains the marketing “sweet spot” of 18-25 year olds, this group draws a lot of attention for obvious reasons.

First is their sheer size – 65% of all U.S. Hispanics are Millennials. They represent 21% of the entire Millennial population, and in key markets like Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, New York and Chicago, they represent 25 to 50% of all Millennials. 

As a Hispanic marketer, the first question to ask is whether Hispanic Millennials are different from their older counterparts. They share a lot of important similarities. As with other Hispanics, they continue to be more optimistic about the future, carry less debt, and have more children at a younger age than their mainstream counterparts. They are also growing rapidly in non-traditional markets like Atlanta, Indianapolis and Charlotte, N.C. They continue to drive increases in multi-generational households, with 45% living with their parents.



Yet, Hispanic Millennials are different from other U.S. Hispanics in some fundamental ways – two-thirds are U.S. born and 40% are bilingual. They are closing the educational gap, as more are attending college, and are marrying much later. Psychographically, they are very aware of their influence in the U.S.

Hispanic Millennials share a lot of similarities with their mainstream counterparts outside education attainment, delayed marriage and living with their parents. This includes heavy digital media consumption and technology usage. All millennials have come of age in the “new normal” of the 2008 recession and the economic uncertainty and career challenges of the last five years, which is significantly affecting their behavior, attitudes and consumption patterns.  Moreover, like mainstream Millennials, they are a large, diverse and complex population. More researchers are coming to understand multiple Hispanic Millennial segments defined by country of birth, acculturation level, age, geography, country of origin, or income.

Attention to Hispanic Millennials is due to more than population size. The more research that is done on this group, the more some fundamental differences with their mainstream counterparts “bubble up,” leading to some fundamental questions about how to approach them. Two powerful distinctions stand out among Hispanic Millennials. The first is their “hyphenated” culture. Hispanic Millennials make up the greatest share of bicultural Hispanics as discussed in a previous post. They very much define themselves via a hyphenated culture of being both Hispanic and American. The result is a new “parity” cultural identity, fueled by combination of bilingualism, technology connections to Latin America, and continued retro acculturation among Millennials. As the New Latino PLUS+ Identity report posits, Hispanics Millennials are embracing a “bigger, more inclusive definition of Latino and American identity.”

So, is there an opportunity for targeted and unique marketing efforts towards Hispanic Millennials? Alternatively, are Hispanic Millennials just a key part of a patchwork of a new American mainstream that requires a new mainstream approach? Media companies like Fusion, Hulu Latino, and El Rey, as well as some pioneering brands like Taco Bell, Mattel and Doritos, are all taking different approaches. Yet, their big bets indicate they see large payoffs with Hispanic Millennials.

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