The Forgotten Hispanic Consumer

Hispanic agencies and media companies have been obsessed with Hispanic millennials for the last three years. It seems that the entire Hispanic marketing industry has focused its attention and efforts towards understanding and reaching the bicultural, partially-to-fully acculturated, native-born U.S. Hispanic. This new “darling” of the Hispanic market is generally given the overly simplistic moniker of “millennial.” My agency and I are guilty of that. We spent the last 18 months conducting our Hispanic Millennial Project research study. This attention is warranted. These segments of the Hispanic market are large, growing, and represent a very attractive consumer with significant lifetime value.

Lost in this buzz is an important segment of the U.S. Hispanic market, the unacculturated, Spanish-speaking, foreign-born Hispanic. These Hispanics have become passé among the elites in our industry and are losing the attention of the largest brands in America. 



I posit three reasons:

1.Decline of the Hispanic Ad Industry The trend is to mainstream Hispanic marketing efforts within “total market.” The increased competition from large general market ad agencies has forced Hispanic agencies to change their focus. Hispanic millennials are viewed as the savior, providing an attractive segment to focus on and a bridge to reposition themselves as “new mainstream” agencies.

2.Immigration Trends Immigration into the U.S. from Mexico has decreased from pre-2008 peak and net migration into the U.S. went negative during the years immediately after the financial crisis. But immigration has not stopped. All the immigrants that came to the U.S. from Latin America during the ’90s and 2000s didn’t go back home. There are 12.4 million Hispanics living in the U.S. today who immigrated here between 1993 and 2013.

3.Millennial Mania Didn’t Reach Immigrants Just when the marketing industry started getting millennial-obsessed, a disconnect began to permeate the Hispanic marketing industry that immigrants didn’t include millennials. People forgot that most immigrants move to this country from Latin America when they are in their 20s and 30s or when children. We’ve noted repeatedly in our research, 40% of Hispanic millennials are foreign-born. There are more than 1.7 million millennial Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. Most recent Hispanic immigrants are Millennials are Gen Zers.

So who are unacculturated Hispanics? Here is a quick breakdown by the numbers:

·       There are 7.56 million unacculturated Hispanics in the U.S.

·       Age/Generational breakdown

o   Median Household Income: $35,716*

o   Digital Profile:*

§  65% access the Internet from home

§  40% are the mobile generation growing up with cell phones and can’t imagine life without them. Cell phone devices are a central part of their everyday lives

They are more attractive than U.S.-born acculturated and bicultural counterparts in many ways:

·       They have less debt

·       66% of those over 18 are married and have larger families (58% have children in the household)*

·       They are increasingly moving to non-traditional markets in the Midwest and Southeast

·       They can be cost-effectively targeted

Reaching and engaging the unacculturated Hispanic consumer requires a fundamentally new approach from the models employed by Hispanic ad agencies in their heyday of the 1990s and early 2000s. Their digital and media behavior has fundamentally changed the ways to reach them. The power of the networks Univision and Telemundo has diminished. Spanish media consumers have a lot more options. They are streaming online content and generally replacing traditional media consumption with digital media. Their digital path to purchase is rarely taken into consideration. 

Unacculturated Hispanics are also much less isolated from the “mainstream,” requiring a more nuanced implementation of total market strategies. This combined with a digital-centric, experience-focused and non-traditional market approach is now the new paradigm, replacing the old model of TV-radio in the top seven markets.

1 comment about "The Forgotten Hispanic Consumer".
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  1. Marcelo Salup from Iffective LLC, November 5, 2015 at 5:31 p.m.

    Finally, some truth in advertising:

    1. The immigrant/unacculturated segment is an attractive segment.
    2. They are not THAT removed from the mainstream (they are not hermits or dumb)
    3. They have modern media habits

    The only point which I think is over-stressed is the media aspect when the real key point should be the messaging itself, which is what drives behavior.

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