An overwhelming number of Latinos identify the family as core to their Hispanic identity, reveals Telemundo’s “Familia Americana Moderna” study, which set out to explore the complexity of today’s Latino identity and learn what comes to Hispanics’ minds when asked to choose what embodies their identity.

Of the 1,000 Latino adults surveyed, 86 percent say family is the heart of their identity. When asked, “What does it mean to be Latino?” 86 percent chose family and 41 percent picked home as the top two identifiers. When asked the same question about being American, 56 percent chose economics and 42 percent education.

“The study reveals that while language is important, cultural relevance is pivotal in deepening brand relevance with this consumer,” Millie Carrasquillo, senior vice president of research for Telemundo Media, said during the presentation of the study at Advertising Week in New York. “Advertisers can take advantage of culture and the family opportunity to broaden the message and communicate efficiently and effectively.”

The Familia Americana Moderna study – which surveyed 1,000 Latinos in a three stage process – also examined the Hispanic family’s impact on television viewing habits as well as on purchase decisions in key categories.

“The whole study is about a fascinating blending,” said Doug Darfield, executive vice president of research and strategic insights at Telemundo Media. “It’s a massive new salad being formed out of multiple ingredients.”

Multiple economic, social and cultural forces in the U.S. affect Latinos today at a higher rate than other ethnicities, creating unique family phenomena that have a strong influence on attitudes, behaviors, purchase decisions and media consumption.

More than 60 percent of Latinos look for information and advice within their family across key product categories such as food, financial services and health products. And it’s precisely that family unit that Hispanics turn to for advice when making purchasing decisions on food (73 percent), financial services and health products (60 percent).

The study showcases the multi-family and extended family phenomenon and explores the role of culture as well as of Spanish-language television, with 81 percent of respondents stating that Spanish-language television preserves the language and culture in Latino families.

“It was fascinating to see the impact that the interplay of Spanish and English being spoken in the household has on a whole host of areas,” said Darfield. “In 2003, Nielsen found that one  out of five Hispanics said they spoke both Spanish and English actively in the home, today it’s one out of four. It’s not a movement anymore because we’re not going from one thing to another… it’s a new place.”

Analysts point out that for many Hispanics, watching Spanish-language television together is a conscious attempt by socialize their children in the U.S. to what’s going on in their country of origin and to their language.

“You have to target programming from a holistic family perspective,” said B. Bonin Bough, vice president of global media and consumer engagement at Kraft Foods. “Now we can look at whether we’re providing different types of messages to different persons in the family; we can become more individualized.”

The FAM study interviewed Latino adults living in households with two persons or more, conducting the interviews  in three phases – focus groups held across key markets; a quantitative survey of over 1,000 Latino adults 18+ with national representation by country of ancestry, gender, age and education; and in-home video interviews demonstrating the realities of contemporary Latino family life.

The Telemundo team examined the contemporary Latino family through the lens of the “FAM-Phen Model,” a psychographic research model designed around key discriminating variables, including births/aging parents, economics, intermarriage, immigration and U.S. geographic migration. It defined multiple family segmentations:

  • Multi-Gen: Three or more generations living in family home – 25 percent
  • Multi-Fam: Two or more families living together in one home – 31 percent
  • ReNesters: Young Adults have returned to live with family after living elsewhere for some time – 18 percent
  • Comings & Goings: Persons living in family home who came to the U.S. in the past three years or left the family home to return to their country of origin – 26 percent
  • Inter-Ethnics: Family that includes one or more persons who are not Latino, typically a spouse – 15 percent

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