¡Pero Espere–Hay Más! (But Wait, There’s More!)

U.S. Hispanics’ buying power is booming, and to reach them effectively, marketers need to craft pitches that observe their cultural cues


You can’t argue with statistics, and there are a few that direct response marketers can’t afford to miss when it comes to U.S. Hispanics’ buying power. According to an August 2011 report from IBISWorld, Hispanic buying power will hit $1.6 trillion by 2015, after sustaining a growth rate of 48 percent, compared to about 27 percent for the entire nation. These numbers are echoed by studies compiled by Nielsen, which estimates that the per-capita income of U.S. Hispanics is now higher than it is for consumers in any of the emerging BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) nations. And if the Hispanic population continues to grow at its current pace, according to census data, one out of three Americans will be of Hispanic descent by 2050.

It’s not that U.S. marketers and advertisers aren’t paying attention to this data. The top 500 U.S. advertisers spent nearly $4.3 billion targeting Hispanics in 2010, says the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA), 14 percent more than in 2009 and just shy of peak levels seen before the beginning of the “Great Recession” in 2008. The message to marketers? Any future initiatives must include campaigns inclusive of Hispanics, or risk missing a major demographic. But the Hispanic market is vast and varied, including young and old, native-born and foreign-born, from all corners of the globe. How does one define the Hispanic market, and how can DRTV marketers reach it better?

Hispanic or Latino?

According to the definition used by the Census Bureau, “‘Hispanic’ or ‘Latino’ refers to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.” Often, “Hispanic” can be used to refer to one’s heritage, nationality, or lineage. It can also apply to a person’s country of birth, or the country that person’s parents or ancestors emigrated from. Someone who identifies himself or herself as “Hispanic” can be of any race, while the term “Latino” is more often used to refer to aspects of cultural background, such as language and traditions.