What 2010 Holds for Hispanic America
The census, upcoming election and economic recovery promise to make this a milestone year.
|New York Times|
Whenever the topic of Hispanic America comes up, the word most commonly used is “growth”—typically with a hyperbolic adjective like “explosive” or “tremendous” in front of it. That’s no accident. Indeed, to talk about where growth in size and influence is taking place in America—economic, cultural, political and demographic—is to talk about the Hispanic community.
This fundamental truth will be more evident than ever in 2010 as three signature storylines draw renewed focus on this population segment: the 2010 census, the 2010 elections and the beginnings of economic recovery and restored consumer spending.
The first of these events—the census—is easily predictable. Every census for the last three or four decades has served as a powerful wake-up call to the nation that America’s Hispanic population is by far the fastest growing part of our population; 2010 will be no different. Over the past decade, roughly half of all population growth in the United States was driven by the Hispanic community—that’s about 10.1 million people. The most recent data pegged the Hispanic population at 46.9 million, representing 15.5 percent of the total population and making Hispanics the largest minority community. The 2010 census will show that this trend has continued and possibly accelerated. Certainly the number of Hispanics in America both in absolute terms and as a percentage of the total population, will have increased substantially. Perhaps most important, the census will shed light on a fact already well known to demographic researchers, which is that the primary driver of population growth in the Hispanic community is no longer immigration, but rather births. It is hard to overstate the significance of this fact. Even as the recession reduced immigration from Latin America, the Hispanic population still continued to grow far faster than the population as a whole, due to higher natural growth rates.
As usual, the release of this data in the 2010 Census will take many Americans aback. This is an opportunity for responsible leaders in America’s business, social and political institutions. The census data will simply serve as a timely reminder that our nation’s long-term strength and stability depends on successfully preparing for an ever more diverse, multi-cultural, multi-lingual future.
That same point will be powerfully reinforced by the second signature moment of 2010: the November elections. By now, it is well understood among political leaders that the Hispanic population is emerging as a crucial swing constituency. In 2008, Hispanic voters represented about 9 percent of all voters, a substantial increase over previous years, yet still well below the influence those voters could have if they registered and voted at comparable rates to non-Hispanics. But the trend lines are clear. Hispanic voter registration efforts are getting more and more voters to the polls and natural growth ensures that in all future elections Hispanics will represent an ever larger voting bloc. As importantly, Hispanics don’t vote monolithically for one party. President Bush carried nearly half of the Hispanic vote in 2000 and it made all the difference in close states like Florida and New Mexico. In 2008, President Obama carried over 70 percent of the Hispanic vote and again it proved decisive in states like Colorado that swung from the Republican to the Democratic column for the first time in years.
The 2010 elections will once again reinforce the fact that the mathematics of elections don’t add up for any party that neglects Hispanic voters. Some of the most watched Senate, House and gubernatorial races in the country will take place in states like California, Florida, Illinois and Nevada—states that simply cannot be won without substantial Hispanic support. Moreover, the 2010 Census will likely lead to Congressional reapportionment with Texas, Florida and several other states receiving additional seats based on districts whose growth is almost entirely attributable to the Hispanic population.
The bottom line is that by the time the dust has settled on the 2010 elections, every political consultant, pollster, party leader and aspiring politician in America will have been forced to confront the fact that the Hispanic vote is no longer an afterthought—it is the difference between winning and losing.
And this same reevaluation will almost certainly take place in the marketing departments, C-suites and boardrooms of America as the business community plots a course for the nascent economic recovery—the third and most important signal event of 2010. The “discovery” of the Hispanic marketplace is not new news to any serious corporation. Already, forward-thinking companies have established best practices for conducting true market research among Hispanics and dedicating marketing dollars equivalent to size and growth of the segment. These marketers know that every dollar invested in reaching Hispanics is a dollar invested in growth.
In 2010, this trend is going to accelerate. This will not simply be due to the demographic growth revealed in the census. Rather, it will come about due to the pressures of the recession, which have forced business leaders to ask wrenching questions about where the growth opportunities of the future truly lie. No longer can businesses lazily assume general GDP growth scenarios under which the future looks like the past, only more so. The tougher reality of post-recession America is that growth cannot be taken for granted—it must be sought out and cultivated. And that will inevitably lead companies to the Hispanic community. This is true in industry after industry. To take just one example: if you’re in the telecommunications business, you can try to squeeze higher margins out of non-Hispanic homes that are overwhelmingly already connected to cable, the Internet and IP telephony—or you can focus on the Hispanic community where there are literally tens of millions of potential customers just waiting for a brand to connect deeply with them.
Taken together, these three events—the census, elections and economic recovery—will stamp 2010 as another milestone for the Hispanic community as it continues to evolve from being a “niche” within the U.S. population to becoming a fully formed mainstream community within the nation. As a result, both Hispanic and non-Hispanic leaders will need to update their thinking as they prepare to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of a changing America.
I agree w/ Miguel. This is a great article that hits on the many levels that Hispanics are influencing. 2010 into 2011 will only prove to see dynamic and steady growth.
Great article. I think you're points are on target. The outcome of the census will impact all aspects of American society - particularly as the influence of Hispanics in the U.S. are presented in numbers rather than predictions. I for one think the numbers will suprise many and give corporations (marketers) even more motivation to reach this market. I will especially be curious to see how it will impact the representation of Hispanics in the corporate and government workforce. Thanks for the great article.
Are we preparing the Latinos? Areas like sciences, math and technology are critical to the recovery and sustainable success of the United States and the soon-to-be majority, the Latinos, need to be prepared to be leaders in those industries and be prepared to compete with foreign competition. Those like Jose Marquez, Louis Pagan, Caroline Fernandez, Alex Bello (to name a few) need to take what they have learned and experienced and do what they can to help and mold the foundation of the United States (young Latinos).
When the census numbers are published in Feb. 2011 and if indeed we reach 19 or 20% of the entire US population, it will serve as a psychological watershed moment by which CMOs and corporate America will 're-discover" the Hispanic market and begin to invest and advertise aggressively. It reminds me of the momentum around Dow 10,000 a couple of years ago. I am optimistic about the future and about the renaissance the Hispanic market will enter with vigor in the coming years.
If it is anything like the 2000 census, this year's counting will again draw short-term media attention to our population numbers with limited meaningful change. Regardless of what the numbers how, we still have little positive representation in the media or entertainment. When our children can proudly see their culture reflected on the large and small screens, then they will know they are accepted as an emerging majority. - Ironic. The security word I was given to verify this post was "gangs."
Great article...way back in 1990...I started telling Time Inc magazine that the hispanic market had 1 of the biggest buying powers in america, and that it was no longer a "niche" market. Well, they didn't buy it right away. Then when Selena tragically was murdered, People magazine was going to run the "friends" sitcom cover the same week, as it was the best show on TV at that time. I ran to the Production Director and told him "YOU HAVE TO PUT SELENA ON THE COVER! IT WILL BE YOUR BIGGEST SELLING COVER OF ALL TIME!...well..after bothering him so much..they decided to run it on only 13 % of the circulation...that is, in the southwest only. I told them it would be a mistake, but they would soon find out...the cover with selena not only had to go back to press 3 or 4 times in order to suplly the orders, but it was the 3rd best selling cover ever in the history of People magazine (2nd was Gloria Estefan's bus accident, and 1st was Audrey Hepburn's death) They even generated a special tribute magazine just for Selena. Now---13 % of the circulation, and the nasty emails received from Boston, Chicago, and all the top 20 markets from hispanics furious with not having Selena on their covers, proved to Time inc, that we're not a NICHE...we are as much a part of america as anyone, and we have the money to prove it. After doing the some research for them, and showing them the numbers...they believed me and started People en Espanol (sad thing is, they did this after I moved to florida-lolol), one mistake on their part...anyway...ADELANTE AND FORWARD!
This is a great opportunity to unify, for planning a long term (10 years) social program. To over see the future where our community as a whole wants to stand in The United States as Americans. I challenge all, parents, kids, workers, professionals, politicians, community leaders, students, to work hard every day for better life and to focus on making stronger our community in all aspects of culture, economics, politics, science, business, social development programs, architecture and much more. I believe that our community at this precise moment of economic crisis. We can be the key to over come and recover the jobs that we have lost, by working hard and giving an extra mile. Producing and manufacturing products in The United States can be an opportunity for our community. We can continue open our micro (little) businesses, (changarritos) in flea markets, open food restaurants, retail stores, communications stores, media companies, e-commerce services, anithing. But this is the opportunity to show our power as consumers, as hard workers, as creative people, as entrepreneurs and as honest and loyal to our principles. Is time to act TODAY. For our future, for our kids and family and as the largest minority community in the United States. Viva our commune heritage and hard work for a better America. email@example.com
I agree completely with Tonatiuh and Eduardo, this is the time that we Hispanics need to unify, oversee the future of our communities, ask to ourselves "Are we Hispanics preparing ourselves and our young generation in all white/blue collar professions? college, technical, vocational education are critical to the recovery the United States and the soon-to-be majority, we Hispanics. I was doing some research in the US Census Bureau website and it caught my attention that according the Educational Census by Sex for Hispanics, 2006 Total Male population 6.7% have a less that a 9th grade education, 83.5% High school or more education and 27.9 Bachelor's degree or more. Females 6.3% less than 9th grade, 84.6% HS or more and 26.2% BS or more. These numbers tell us that our Hispanic community need to do better, motivate our young generation to prepare themselves to be able to compete in the business world. I always advice my kids to take advantage of every opportunity it present to them, better themselves, feel proud of their grand and beautiful race and heritage.