Hispanic Market's Biggest Impact? Non-Hispanics

Researchers love to talk about the fast-growing clout of the Hispanic market, especially in terms of population gains, household income and product preferences. But the real power, according to a new report from Nielsen, lies in the rise of ambiculturalism, the ability to flit in and out of any number of preferences in a way that’s highly individual, personal and meaningful.

And that kind of culture surfing is contagious, says Eva Gonzales, executive director, diverse consumer insights for Nielsen North America, “in the same way Sriracha is popular with both Asians and non-Asians, and non-Hispanics are some of the biggest consumers of salsa.” She fills Marketing Daily in why these pan-cultural preferences are so important.

Q. Could you explain how this culture surfing impacts the American mainstream?

A. Multicultural shopping preferences often resonate with non-Hispanic white people. And that means the true dimension of the multicultural opportunity can be underestimated by using only traditional demographic ethnic segmentation models. Food is a great example of this influence. While multicultural consumers account for 53% of hot sauce buyers, the category has grown into a mainstream condiment. Soul food, sushi, tacos, and pizza, once considered ethnic foods,  are now like apple pie and hot dogs. 



This influence affects the whole grocery store and is expanding the multicultural market opportunity for manufacturers and retailers. Innovative products with new flavors and imported products are impacting the food industry. 

Q. How does age affect pan-culturalism?

A. Hispanics are young, with 60% of U.S. Hispanics 34 and younger, and 32% under age 18. This disproportionately young population is increasingly bilingual, ambicultural, and exhibits strong culture sustainability. The gravitational pull is to be culturally both American and Latino, without denying either, and to fully embrace this ambivalence. Technology helps, including borderless social networking. So they gravitate to brands, products, and activities that reinforce their cultural roots. Even as multicultural consumers welcome brands and marketing messages that reflect and acknowledge the complexity of their identities and aspirations, they are also exploring and embracing the cultures of others.

Q. Your latest research dives pretty deeply into language preference. In an era when more and more Hispanics prefer to speak English, why does it matter?

A. Cultural cues in marketing and campaign messaging can create more authentic connections to these young influencers. Over half of Hispanic children under the age of 18 currently live in a household with at least one foreign-born parent, facilitating a strong connection to their cultural roots. This means that in-culture messaging in Spanish is very relevant to younger generations, despite their increasing proficiency in English. It is crucial for marketers understand the importance of this cultural duality and the role that language plays in this process. Latinos are making a mindful choice to grasp onto Spanish in combination with English. Actually, a majority of English-speaking Hispanics in the U.S. are bilingual.

Q. What are the major device differences?

A. Hispanics 18-34 have similar self-reported ownership rates compared to total non-Hispanic whites, smartphones and tablet use, while non-Hispanic Whites use laptops and desktop computers more. For those over 35, compared to non-Hispanic white counterparts, smartphone ownership is higher for Hispanics (68% versus 56%).

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