An article featured in the Wall Street Journal highlights findings from a recent AHAA report, which positions upscale Latinos as an economic force to be reckoned with. WSJ goes as far as calling upscale Hispanics the most “influential segment since the baby boomers.” While these findings come as no surprise to economists and ethnographers (and is still music to Hispanic marketers’ ears) upscale Hispanic media consumption could represent a challenge for marketers looking to target this group by way of a “total market approach”.
A total market approach to media buying means that by targeting the general population, there will be a certain amount of Hispanics targeted as a given. According to AHAA’s findings, upscale Hispanics’ cultural assimilation (as evidenced by their media consumption) isn’t a one way street, and thus could pose problems to marketers looking to reach this group as a side effect of reaching out to the general market.
In 2012, upscale Latinos (belonging to households that earn 50-100k annually) accounted for 29 percent (15 million) of the U.S. Hispanic population — a number that is expected to double by 2050. The WSJ states that “this viable and sophisticated market boasts 40 percent (or $4 out of every $10 Hispanic dollars spent) of Hispanic spending power, lives in a world of cultural duality, and provides lifetime value and upside opportunities for many high-end and luxury brands.” According to the article, this “cultural duality” fuels media consumption and purchasing trends, stating that “deeper pockets do not translate to increased assimilation.”
“Upscale Hispanics live in two cultures, with three-quarters speaking both English and Spanish. While they are slightly more English-dominant, their strong cultural duality and bicultural behavior is reflected in their media consumption.” For marketers that are keen to target upscale Hispanics, this distinct cultural reality poses an interesting challenge. According to the AHAA study “over one third of upscale Hispanics watch content in both languages (with English-language comedies, documentary-style programming and children’s weekly programming as the most watched) but switch to Spanish-language television for cultural events, concerts and sports.”
While there is no cut and dry method to engage Hispanics, AHAA’s study does reiterate the value of courting upscale Hispanics and stresses the benefits of anthropological insights when attempting to do so. According to the study’s findings, the increasingly popular “total market approach” to target upscale Hispanics (which are defined by their cultural duality as expressed in their media consumption) is inadequate to say the least. As Hispanics continue their economic assimilation in the US, their cultural assimilation will be on their terms.
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