by Karl Greenberg
Feb 20, 2013
With more than half the population of many U.S. cities who are multicultural and Hispanics comprising more and more of the U.S. population, when does it become meaningless and redundant to execute marketing strategy that is directed to a general market and a Latino market perceived to be homogenous?
Multicultural creative agency LatinWorks and consumer research consultancy EthniFacts say in a new study that such a view is far too simplistic with regard to Latino self-definition, and doesn’t take into account the extent to which the so-called general market comprises a large population of Hispanic consumers who consider themselves American, or both American and Latino.
The survey-based study, “The PLUS+ Identity — Shifting Paradigms and the Future of Latino Culture in the US” — says Latinos today are less apt to embrace a “neither from here, the U.S., nor from there, the country of origin” perspective, and more likely to embrace an “ambicultural” “from here and from there” identity, “They are assertively both, gradually re-defining the middle-ground space and becoming more comfortable with their ‘and’ status,” says the report.
It’s an important distinction for marketers, as young Latinos and other ethnicities are becoming dominant, especially in urban areas, and they don’t see themselves merely as Latino — they are doing a balancing act: defining the American national culture while asserting their culture of origin.
The firms say there’s a cultural imperative to change, as Millennials who resist and remain “insulated from the cultural evolution will start experiencing the modern meaning of “otherness” and risk being left behind.
On one hand, 67% of respondents said they want their kids to speak Spanish as well as they speak English; 63% say they are proud to be Latino, and just over 50% say Latino identity feels natural to them. And 60% say others know them as Latino. At the same time, 85% of Latinos feel equally American and Latino, per the study, and the same percentage want to stay that way. Seventy-one percent of those who feel more American than Latino, however, want to shift to the ambicultural middle.
The study results also suggest that while 44% of Latinos today identify as residing in an ambicultural space, the percentage of respondents who say that they aspire to be ambicultural increases to 66%. In other words, more Latinos who think of themselves either as Latino or American want to move to the middle.
The study also finds that ambicultural Hispanics are more sociable and intermingle with a much more culturally diverse group: more Latinos identifying themselves as residing between Latino and American identities say they seek to hang out with other ethnicities than those who identify as American. The latter group over-indexes for wanting to make more money, become better educated and get ahead in jobs and careers.