Hispanics Continue To Break The Mold With Census Answers

It is long past time to put generalities on the shelf when it comes to the way marketers view the Hispanic market. Those of us in this space know this -- but now Hispanics are saying the same thing through their responses to the 2020 census. Their answers show that “Hispanic” isn’t an adequate descriptor for who they are.

More than 20 million Hispanics identified with more than one race in the 2020 census. Out of 62.1 million Hispanics in the U.S., that’s almost one in three. That figure was only 3 million in the 2010 census. Changes in the census form’s race section made it easier for people to select white -- which is how many Latinos self-identify -- while also selecting “some other race” or “multiple races.” 

Among Hispanics who identify with a single race, 26.2 million said they were “some other race” in the written response section. This means that there’s a significant Hispanic cohort who didn’t feel the “race” options offered by the census captured who they are. When added to the “multiple race” cohort, clearly the majority of U.S. Hispanics, or 46.5 million, identify with a race or multiple races not captured by only “white.” 



This dovetails with another interesting finding: Three out of 10 newlyweds who are Hispanic married someone who is not Hispanic in 2019. According to an analysis by Pew Research Center of the 2019 American Community Survey and the 1980 decennial census, 30% of Hispanic newlyweds married someone who is not Hispanic, the highest percent among all ethnicities. This trend was more common among U.S.-born Hispanics versus foreign-born.

How much more proof is needed that Hispanics don’t fit in one box and certainly should not be portrayed with just one skin color? As marketers, we must know our consumers -- both their cultural norms and cultural barriers. For many of us in Hispanic marketing, this complexity has not been an easy sell to the big brand mentality, which prefers the ease of “racial boxes.”

But marketers are clearly off the mark without a strategy and understanding of who the Hispanic target really is. Hispanics have roots that span Afro-Caribbean, indigenous peoples, and the Middle East. We see this manifest itself in the food we eat, the words we use, our family hierarchy, and our views of life and living.

In the age of Big Data, is your marketing approach to Hispanics missing this norm of self-identification? This is so much more than just a language approach. It comes with doing smart research to uncover the critical insights for how this diverse market views your brand and brand message.

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