Today we kick off our “Hispanics in the U.S.” blog series by demystifying the Hispanic market. It’s key to remember that currently there are an estimated 53 million Hispanics living in the U.S. –that’s 17% of the nation’s total population. And according to the U.S. Census, about one out of three Americans will be Latino by 2050. Yet, if we take a quick look at mainstream television, the general stereotypes of what defines a Hispanic or Latino are evident in the public’s eye. Please note — We’re not all maids, and we’re definitely not all devious.
Here are six myths about Hispanics marketers should not be fooled by.
1. To reach Hispanics, you must use Spanish. While the majority of Latinos speak Spanish, research shows that Hispanics are consuming more news media in English. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2012, 82% of Hispanic adults consumed some of their news in English, up by 4 points since 2006. At the same time, the number of those who consumed at least some news in Spanish declined by 10 points from 2006 to 2012. Major media corporations have been paying close attention to this trend, evidenced by the recent launches of media targeting English dominant and bilingual Hispanics, such as Univision’s Fusion and CNN Latino.
2. Most Hispanics migrate to the United States illegally from Mexico, and that’s why all celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Immigration is a hot topic in the news media that is closely associated with Latin Americans, however, not all Hispanics are here without a legal status. According to Pew, the number of Hispanics born in the U.S. has been on the rise for more than a decade, reaching 64% in 2011. Also, it’s important for marketers to remember that while over 60% of Hispanics are of Mexican descent, Latinos trace their heritage to over 20 different nationalities — and we are very proud of them! Which are the top five among the native-born Hispanics? Mexican, Puerto Rican, Salvadoran, Cuban and Dominican. When considering only foreign-born Hispanics, Venezuelans, Peruvians and Colombians take the top three spots.
3. Latinos lag behind in education. Over the last several years, the U.S. has seen an overall decline in college entrance rates – with Hispanics being the exception! Latinos have been the only demographic among 18-24 year old high school graduates that has been steadily increasing in college entrance rates over the past years. And now are second to their Asian counterparts, surpassing for the first time college entrance rates of whites. At the same time, high school dropout rates among Hispanics have reached a record low of 15%, and have been rapidly declining faster than any other demographic.
4. Latinos lack access to health care. When it comes to health insurance, over 70% of Hispanics who are citizens and legal residents have coverage, and 76% have a health care provider – just 7 points lower compared to the overall U.S. population. Yet at the same time, Hispanics spent $40 billion in 2012 in out of pocket healthcare costs. And as a group, we also have a higher prevalence of certain diseases compared to non-Hispanic groups, including obesity and diabetes. Overall, the health insurance opportunity in our market includes about 10.2 million uninsured Hispanics are eligible for insurance, which will definitely come in handy since recent research shows that Hispanics outlive Whites by four years.
5. Latinos lack access to technology. Technology has long been hailed as the great equalizer. And no group has been so quick to take advantage of it as Latinos. Study after study has shown that Hispanics are well connected – we are just as likely to own smartphones as other demographics, we are more likely to access the internet from our phones and we are extremely social on online media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter.
6. Latinos are still low on the “purchasing power” totem pole, so why target them? Hispanics are by far the largest minority in the U.S., representing a whopping $1.2 trillion opportunity for marketers. Nielsen recently published a report making it official that Latinas run the house – literally. Latinas have been making strides in education and their careers and are by far the primary decision-makers in their homes. Marketers need to play close attention how these “ambicultural” women shop for their families.