“Engaging Hispanics- Demographics, Culture and Tactics”

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Per the 2010 Census, the Hispanic population in the United States is growing rapidly; as of today, 1 in 6 people in the US is Hispanic.  And 1 in 4 kindergarteners is Latino too.  Not all are immigrants or undocumented, as a matter of fact 63% of Latinos are born in the US vs being foreign born, yet 78% speak Spanish at home, per the Global Insights’ Hispanic Monitor. 

This growth is visible in Maryland too! A mecca for Salvadorians, Peruvians among others with Washington, Frederick and Montgomery counties flush with growth.  Over 8% of the population in the state classifies itself as Hispanic, approximately 500,000 people {Pew Hispanic Center 2011.}  

This is a youthful (median age is 28) segment straddling two cultures with insatiable appetite for technology and social media. And a soaring buying power, per the Selig Center for Economic Growth, estimated at $1.5 trillion nationally.   Despite average incomes being lower than national averages, Hispanic families tend to have larger families (3.2 people per household vs 2.4 per non-Hispanics households), yet we tend to spend more on utilities, transportation, dining out and housing.  Personally, my family and I do spend more…way more, especially on “sports & entertainment.” 

Obviously, there’s an opportunity to connect, engage and attract Hispanics- whether as consumers, clients, patients, employees or partners.  BUT HOW?? 

The engagement process is not easy.  Hispanics are not monolithic; although we share the same language, we hail from over 20+ countries and fiercely affiliate with our native land.  While also being American, proudly American!  

Acculturation is key– The process in which an immigrant adjusts, or acculturates to the local culture, language, customs, traditions, etc.  Where the individual lies in this spectrum drives how they respond to messages and outreach.  

Language– Do not make assumptions about ability to speak English or Spanish.  My name is Cool, yet I am fluent in Spanish.  There are folks named Rodriguez, Juan, Maria etc., that do not speak Spanish at all.  Only 8% of Spanish speakers, only speak Spanish- worthy to note when determining whether your materials should be translated. 

Can’t be Ignored– The population is changing exponentially, with over 1 million Latinos turning 18 every year.  By 2050, Latinos will comprise approximately 30% of the population.  Although the Census indicates the Hispanic population is approximately 10% in Maryland, there are neighborhoods with Hispanic concentration upwards of 30%. 

Tech-Savvy-  Whether through necessity or innovative desire, Latinos seem to be ahead of most technological movements. Hispanics had an average of 6.1 internet enabled devices in their households (vs 5.3 for non-Hispanic households) and 65% of Hispanics purchased products/services on their mobile devices, driving U.S. Hispanic spend via mobile devices to $10.1 Billion annually.   

Most importantly, don’t cut corners- This is a complex, yet untapped market. As you strive to attract, engage and penetrate this market, please invest the time, energy and resources.  This is not a one-night stand, but a long courtship, leading to a very fruitful marriage. 

Do keep in mind that Hispanics run the range from non-acculturated to fully assimilated.  An immigrant learning the ropes of life in the US and the language, is on one end of the spectrum; whereas, I, myself lie on the opposite end.  Fully bilingual and assimilated into American culture today.   

But we share one common goal-  Achieving the American Dream.  Learning how to reach and engage Latinos is instrumental in this changing climate. 


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