No doubt, Latinos in the U.S. are gradually but surely being integrated and absorbed into mainstream U.S. American society. Considering the steadily growing population of this ethnic group, they have become a target of special study looking closely into their cultures and how they are adapting to the American way of life. Biculturalism or the cross-over between the two cultures is evident.
And this phenomenon has incited not only government policy makers, census takers, social scientists and social media but also marketing professionals to look more closely into the U.S. Hispanic lifestyles and spending habits and how they affect the marketing strategies they need to adopt to get this specific market segment. Biculturalism is not limited to just having tacos, jalapenos, tamales and tequilas in Mexican specialty restaurants. Song and dance, the universal languages as seen in some TV programs, show diversity in a multicultural society at work in the United States.
The end of the “general market” as we knew it?
As shown in a graph on page 7 in the 2010 Census Briefs “The Hispanic Population 2010” issued in May, U.S. Hispanics are growing in numbers across the United States, and marketing experts are well aware of the effects of biculturalism in factoring in multicultural sensitivities in their marketing strategies. In a melting pot of cultures, acculturation is not a one-way thing. More often than not, it works both ways. In this regard, acculturation could mean diversity. Let’s take some specific examples.
The 2010 Census counted 50.5 million Hispanics in the United Sates, making up 16.3% of the total population. The social networking sites like Facebook have many of these U.S. Hispanics as members interacting with themselves mostly in their native tongue, Spanish. Perhaps, it wouldn’t be a surprise if in their social circles — family and friends — they have some specific inclinations to, say, a special kind of alcoholic beverage, specialty shop or fast-food restaurant that caters to their cultural background. This is not to forget their inclination for viewing TV channels catering specially to their cultures like watching telenovelas done in installments. Indeed, this is a multicultural society.
Infusion of multicultural sensitivities into their messages
For some, it might mean the beginning of a multicultural marketing approach to the growing presence of Latinos in American society. To be sure, they will impact the way we market and sell needs and wants, from food — chocolates, ice cream, hot chilies — to housing to health care and education, even electronic gadgets and entertainment, from TVs to computer games.
Census data are certainly changing the way marketers look at Hispanic consumers. However, as we know, the crossover among cultures is a two-way street.
Download Pew Hispanic Center data on state and county populations for 2010 and 2000, by Hispanic origin.
Diversity is the new mindset, the new cross-cultural phenomenon
There seems to be a trend in diversity as a result of this cross-cultural phenomenon. The Latino or U.S. Hispanic entrepreneur who operates a small-scale business in the neighborhood could be serving his taco delights, or tequilas or selling sombreros, aside from renting out DVDs featuring special song and dance numbers in their own native styles. Or a Latino bringing home the Master’s Degree he or she earned in a prestigious U.S. university will definitely add to erasing the great cultural divide.
Many will argue that there are two currents or forces pulling in opposite directions. However, sooner or later, the Latinos and non-Latinos will be totally absorbed into the multicultural society and it will, hopefully, redound to the mutual benefit of all. The next U.S. National Census, about nine years from now will, I hope, bear witness to this development.