Hispanic is neither an ethnicity nor a country of origin… its not even a matter of language. Hispanic is, if anything, an increasingly broad self-identifier. The fact that over 50 million individuals of different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds in the U.S. identify as Hispanic has posed a challenge to ethnographers, surveyors, political strategists and marketers alike. A new analysis of census data released today by the US2010 Project at Brown University shows a growing diversity among Latino groups in the U.S. that is “marked by class and regional differences.”
Traditionally Census reports identified Latinos as either Mexican, Puerto Rican or Cuban. Brown’s report “reallocated a share of (people who identify as) “Other Hispanics” to specific national origin groups”. In doing this, researchers at Brown found some interesting differences among Latinos.
Among the report’s findings:
– “Low education and poverty are more common among Guatemalans and Mexicans. Puerto Ricans and those who descend from South America enjoy distinct socioeconomic advantages.”
“Segregation remains unchanged among Mexicans in the U.S. as their counterparts from other countries are increasingly dispersed.”
What the report described as “New Latinos – Dominicans, Central and South Americans – are growing even faster than Mexicans.” (3 million in 1990, 5 million in 2000 vs over 8 million currently)”.
“Puerto Ricans and Cubans, as well as Argentineans and Venezuelans, earn much more than Mexicans.”
“South Americans are generally the highest educated among Latino groups and are less segregated from non-Hispanic whites than Mexicans. Central Americans and Dominicans are far more segregated.”
For marketers, this question of diversity among U.S Hispanics poses the problem of “diversifying the message to Latinos”. An article appearing in The Daily Demcorat cites Jose Villa, president of Sensis, a Los Angeles-based advertising agency, who says:
It’s a big, ongoing question from the marketing perspective… typically, marketing to Hispanics is done in a pan-Hispanic way. When a national brand is marketing across the U.S., they don’t typically go down to the granular level of nationality.
In today’s track everything, Big Data-driven advertising landscape, the tendency seems to be towards hyper-focused targeting, from messaging all the way to placement. Hispanic demographics show a highly fragmented reality, a fact which offers increasingly specific data that is both useful and challenging to marketers. However, big data is useless if it isn’t interpreted and processed intelligently.
While some marketers argue that data-driven creative is lacking, I think there is little doubt that reports like the one produced by Brown University will have (eventually) positive repercussions for creative work targeting Hispanics, at least in terms of engagement. Why try and kill two birds with one stone (the pan-Hispanic approach) when you realize one of the birds is immune to stones and the other bird is actually a fish? Since engagement is the name of the game, marketers may start to “fish with small nets” by honing in on creative messaging and placement as much as smart data allows.
This post is also available in: Spanish
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