Financial Services Industry Strives to Navigate U.S. Latino 'Bothism'

Marketers often fall into the trap of binary thinking, hindering creativity and clashing with consumers seeking fluidity. While the industry has struggled to embrace bothism – the concept of merging seemingly opposing approaches for better results – multicultural consumers in the U.S., particularly bi-cultural Latinos, have fully adopted it. Many see themselves as American and Latino, not half and half, but 200%, wholly embracing their American and Latino identities.  

Honing in on the financial services sector, let’s explore cultural bothism among bi-cultural Latinos through the lens of language, age, and income to gain insights that can inform financial institutions' strategies to engage this diverse consumer group effectively. 



Language: Spanish vs. English 

When discussing how to reach Latinos, language tends to be the most polarizing topic. Traditional Spanish-language media portrays all Latinos as Spanish speakers, while newer media platforms targeting younger Latinos suggest otherwise. However, recent Pew Research data reveals a nuanced reality: 75% of all Latinos can proficiently converse in Spanish. Yet, this percentage varies significantly across generational cohorts, with second-generation Latinos at 69% and third-generation Latinos at 34%. Considering the youthfulness of the Latino population, with 25.7% of U.S. children being of Hispanic origin, 32% of Hispanics being under 18 and 26% being Millennials, it's evident that targeting specific generational segments is crucial. For financial products, the language strategy should be tailored accordingly: 

For immigrants, Spanish remains a safe bet. For Gen Alpha and younger Millennials, English is preferable. For older Millennials and Gen X, Spanglish can be effective when used authentically, as research indicates its power.  

Age: Older vs. Younger Latinos 

Marketers often highlight the youthfulness of the Latino population, with the median age at 30 compared to 41.1 for non-Hispanics. However, this demographic is also rapidly aging, with the number of Hispanic adults aged 65 and older nearly tripling since 2000 and projected to quadruple by 2060. This dual demographic reality presents unique challenges and opportunities, especially in financial services.  

Caregiving in particular is a significant concern, as Latino caregivers face financial strain while balancing work and caregiving responsibilities for both children and elderly family members. Financial institutions can address these needs through resources like multigenerational retirement planning workshops, multilingual financial education materials, customized financial products, the promotion of government assistance programs, and the provision of culturally sensitive advisors.  

Income: High income vs. Low Income Latinos 

In addition to language and age, income must be considered. Hispanic households had a median net worth of $52,190 in 2020, significantly lower than the $195,600 median for non-Hispanic households. Despite economic challenges, many Latinos still view the U.S. as offering more opportunities and better healthcare access than their countries of origin. Our research, the Millennial project, found that over 71% of Millennial Latinos believe in the American dream, compared to 55% of non-Latino Millennials.  

Homeownership represents a cornerstone of the American dream for many Latinos. In 2023, the Hispanic homeownership rate reached 49.5%, with a net gain of 377,000 owner-households. While facing barriers like rising interest rates and low inventory, Latino homebuyers remain resilient, utilizing co-borrowers and specialized programs to achieve homeownership.  

Financial institutions can assist Hispanic homebuyer hopefuls through accessible homeownership programs, community outreach and education, multigenerational financial planning, cultural competency training for staff and accessible financial resources. 

Navigating Latino bothism in financial services goes beyond the scope of these three examples, yet they serve as a framework for fostering genuine connections with Latinos. Marketers within the financial sector must transcend binary thinking and embrace the nuanced duality within this diverse consumer base, understanding how factors like language, age, and income shape their perspectives. By doing so, financial institutions can effectively tailor their strategies to meet Latino consumers’ needs and build meaningful relationships that drive long-term success. 

Next story loading loading..