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Getting Taken Seriously: A Hispanic Researcher’s POV

By Carlos E. Garcia

As a Latino who has worked in Hispanic consumer research for over thirty years, it is gratifying that this field of inquiry is finally being taken seriously.

So what was the tipping point?  Professionals in the area thought it might be the 2000 Census, the attention paid to the Hispanic market during the last World Cup – or, perhaps, the day General Mills came out with Dulce de Leche-flavored Cheerios.

But what I think caused the sea-change in the C-Suite was the data recently released by the US Census Bureau earlier this summer– that Multicultural births outpaced White births, 50.4% to 49.6%, from July 2010 to July 2011. This is a big deal – it brings home the fact that those charts showing the Multicultural populations adding up to more than 50% of the US population by 2050 weren’t a far-away concern.  It’s already happening.

It’s time to buckle your cinturón, the future is now.

Terms like “General Market” and “Mainstream” have been used at times to marginalize the populations of color that are hard to reach with everyday, business-as-usual marketing. Now the US Hispanic market is effectively the 11th strongest economy in the world, with a $1.1 trillion dollar value.   From now on Hispanic marketing will be an everyday, business-as-usual issue — we are the General Market; we are the Mainstream as an integral part of the whole.

Funny fact: There are more Latinos in Los Angeles – my home city – than there are Irishmen in Ireland, Danes in Denmark or Kiwis in New Zealand.  I often wonder: Why doesn’t East LA have its own seat on the Security Council?

As a result of this long-overdue attention, some major players in the corporate world are making moves around this issue, and the advertising, PR and research firms that serve them are stepping up with serious offerings in the space.  Look for more.

The likely next trends to watch also include:

  • The “normalization” of Hispanic marketing: Including a Hispanic component is becoming a regular part of big national studies.
  • 24 million Hispanics are now eligible to vote, although their participation rate has always been low.  As Hispanics begin to express their values at the polls – this coming election will tell a tale – they could have a profound effect on our country.
  • The underlying premise: One problem faced by marketers and researchers when they seek to understand the US Hispanic market is the basic understanding of what a product or service might mean to a Hispanic. This misunderstanding could be at the heart of why so many marketers consider Hispanics hard to research.
  • As the need for Hispanic marketing becomes a settled fact, other populations will jump into the fray, including African-American, Asian-American, LGBT, and Mixed Race.  After all, it is with all of these groups together that the Multicultural populations exceed 50% before 2050.
  • The ideal client/agency/research meeting – where Hispanic marketing experts with solid experience and a deep understanding of the market sit at all three corners of the table, resulting in coherent choices – could happen to you.
  • Facing up to new technologies and the challenge they represent for Hispanic marketing – which has always been dominated by broadcast media – and research.

Arriba y Adelante

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2 responses to “Getting Taken Seriously: A Hispanic Researcher’s POV

  1. I share Carlos points of view on the US Hispanic consumer segment. Over recent times, I have been glad to see corporate America waking up in making more efforts to understand this segment – for so many years we have been the ‘invisible consumers’ that simply live in the US and while we can be quantified, in many instances, we are not understood as consumers. The US is a prism of people with multiple lifestyles, beliefs, ethnicities and backgrounds and successful companies will be the ones that make an effort to understand those consumer targets that patronize or may have consideration for their product or services.

  2. There is still one area where we have yet to make headway and that is in medical and pharmaceutical research – participation rates among Hispanics in cancer research, for instance, has been as low as 1.3%! Given what we know about genetic predisposition to various diseases and differential response to treatments, we must go further to push for inclusion of Hispanic participants and addressing culture-specific barriers to their participation. In order to achieve this, however, requires that the healthcare delivery system embraces the mission of becoming culturally competent and investing resources to do so.

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Carlos Garcia

Carlos Garcia

Partner / Business / Trends & Research Lead, Latin Business Today