Latin@ Consumers: Deflating Misconceptions

shoppingIf your brand is trying to reach the “Latin@ community,” there are a lot of things to keep in mind – and definitely a lot of misconceptions out there. Let’s delineate and debunk some of the most common myths about marketing to Latin@s in the United States.

1. Latin@s in the United States have little purchasing power.

Assuming that this is the case is a huge mistake, and here’s why. In 2012, Hispanic purchasing power was at $1.2 trillion, and according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth, is expected to rise to $1.5 trillion by 2015. Latin@ households in the United States spend more on phone services, men’s, boy’s and children’s clothing, and footwear, as well as on groceries and restaurants than non-Latin@ households. How’s that for purchasing power?

2. To market to the Latin@ demographic, you need to speak Spanish. 

Also patently false. It’s been proven time and time again that a Spanish-language label isn’t going to cut it, and the reason for this is that most Latin@ residents of the United States are quite fluent in English. Many Latin@ Spanish-speakers often only do so at home with their families.

Here in the US, the ability to switch between cultural identities is crucial. In fact, at this juncture, 82% of Hispanic Americans are bilingual, and 25% speak only English. What it comes down to is that Latin@s are in no way homogenous, meaning that marketing to the demographic requires a little more nuance.

3. Latin@s in the United States only live in big cities like New York and Miami.

The reason for this misconception is the belief that most Latin@s are blue-collar workers who immigrate to urban hubs for work. The reality, however, is that the Latin@ demographic is becoming more and more educated, with the highest level of enrollment in higher education of any minority group.

The result here is that new growth is taking place for the Latin@ population in states like Oregon, Utah, Iowa, and Minnesota. South Carolina, for example, has seen a 148% increase in its Latin@ population, showing that it’s not at all about urban hubs or even immigration anymore. Much of the population growth for the Latin@ community is actually due to new births rather than immigration.

What it all comes down to is that the purchasing power of Hispanic Americans is much higher than you might have imagined – and even if your company is located outside of a major US city, it’s important to think about what that means for your marketing strategy.

Has your business considered marketing to the Hispanic community in your area?

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Tree is a somewhat nomadic graduate student pursuing an MFA in Poetry and Literary Translation from Drew University. A self-identified “diplobrat,” she spent over 16 years living as an expat in countries like Guatemala, Bolivia, and Tanzania. Tree graduated from Smith College in 2012 with a degree in Spanish Language and Literature, a minor in Studio Art, and a concentration in Landscape Studies. In between writing poetry for school and content for CEM, she dabbles in goat herding and freelancing. Other interests include reading, watercolor painting, gardening, and traveling.

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