The American consumer landscape is changing immensely thanks to rapid shifts in demographics and technology. For almost two decades, Hispanics have been fueling U.S. population growth. According to the Pew Research Center, today more than 55 million Hispanics call the country home, compared with 35.7 million in 2000. At the same time, technology has eliminated physical borders and allowed businesses to grow and reach consumers far and wide.
“The growth of Hispanics consumers can no longer be viewed as a population shift but rather an economic opportunity to grow your business,” said Cesar Conde, chairman of NBCUniversal International Group and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, during Nielsen’s 2016 Consumer 360 Conference in Las Vegas. During the two-day event focused on the disruptions affecting brands today, as well as the transformative innovations helping them succeed, Conde shared his thoughts on “The Transformation of the Consumer Landscape” and how Latinos have become an economic force that cannot be ignored.
In 2015, Hispanic-American’s controlled $1.3 trillion in buying power, and with a projected reach of $1.7 trillion by 2020, they are in a position to drive cultural, economic and political change. To put this in perspective, if U.S. Hispanics were their own country, they would have the 14th largest economy in the world.
And this spending power will continue to grow with the demographic. Latinos have been the primary driving force behind the rise of the U.S. birth rate, and over the next five years, they will account for 50% of the population growth. Given the potential for significant revenue growth, can brands and businesses afford not to engage Hispanics?
For Conde, the short answer is no.
Hispanics are not only changing the consumer landscape as a result of the size of their wallet and population, but their influence on music, politics and business is redefining America. And for Conde, this era of rapid cultural and demographic transformation requires greater and deeper insights to reach this unique group.
Today’s consumer landscape is more multicultural than ever, and companies cannot have a “one size fits all” strategy anymore. Whether it’s market leaders looking to transform their strategy or a brand looking to enter the Hispanic market, knowing how and where to find them requires patience and innovation.
“Hispanics live an ambicultural reality. Unlike other immigrant groups, Hispanics feel they are 200%ers™—100% American and 100% Latino—and this is more prevalent among younger demos,” said Conde. In other words, these consumers are able to shift between their two cultures—American and Latino—seamlessly. In 2014, more than a third of Hispanic homes spoke both English and Spanish, up 87% from 2013. It’s no longer enough for brands to cast a broad net or only market to Hispanics in English or Spanish—they need both. And while language is important, it isn’t the only connection point.
Latinos account for one-fifth of the U.S. Millennial population, making them digital natives and early adopters of technology, and Telemundo has coined them Generation M: Millennial, Multicultural, Mobile™. While language, customs, foods and cultural beliefs unites them, technology is what keeps them connected. To reach Generation M®, campaigns must be mobile, as 83% of Hispanic Millennials sleep with their phones and 89% use social networking sites. “We need to connect on their terms or we literally won’t be on their radar,” noted Conde.
Brands that are authentic and make a conscious effort to understand the uniqueness and differences among Hispanics are going to be more successful in creating meaningful and real connections with this group. Marketing strategies cannot just be part of a total market strategy, stressed Conde. Instead, brands should seek out cultural nuances that are relevant and genuine.
“Hispanics are rapidly becoming the consumers and influencers of tomorrow,” Conde concluded. “It’s critical for companies to act and engage with them now.”
GENERATION M is a registered trademark, and GENERATION M: MILLENNIAL, MULTICULTURAL & MOBILE and 200%ERS are trademarks of NBCUniversal Media, LLC.