From September 15th to October 15th each year, Americans celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month to recognize the contributions and accomplishments of the Hispanic community. This heritage month began as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was further extended by Ronald Reagan during his presidency. Hispanic Heritage Month carries a theme each year, and we commemorate “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope” in 2021.
Every year around this time, we celebrate the culture, traditions, and contributions of Hispanic Americans. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15th through October 15th. This year, we take this opportunity to highlight the size of this demographic and predict changes on the horizon. But first, the data. Based on the 2020 Census, Hispanics now account for 18% of the U.S. population.
Miami is quickly becoming the next Silicon Valley. Fueled by the tech explosion permeating South America and corporate America’s waning interest in settling out west, Miami has become a bustling hub for upwardly mobile Hispanics. Tech companies looking to put down roots in the coastal city are either looking to secure tech talent or are scouting locations to set up shop, or both. The result, an empowered Hispanic base with the disposable income to buy what they want and need to support multigenerational households or, in some cases, extended family in their countries of origin.
Six months later, the result of the 2020 Presidential Election is crystal clear. Joe Biden won by over seven million votes. Why Americans voted as they did is something sociologists and political scientists will be analyzing for years to come. Trump’s demeanor and policy positions may have contributed to his loss, but his pugnaciousness and far-Right agenda attracted more voters, many of them multicultural, in 2020 than in 2016. While Trump’s support was increasing, 2020 threw the world a COVID-19 sized curveball. Had the pandemic not occurred, it’s likely Donald Trump would still be President.
Latino consumers continue to outpace the general market in technology use. This trend is driven primarily by the youth of this demographic. Nearly six in ten Hispanics are Millennials or younger, and Gen Z is the first majority-minority generation. These generations are digital natives and thrive on the mobile experience, which impacts how they interact with e-commerce, social media, and entertainment. More specifically, Hispanics over-index on e-commerce, especially among Hispanic Millennials, many of whom are bilingual, living in multigenerational households. They act as “digital sherpas,” interpreting the purchase experience for Spanish-dominant loved ones.
March 2021 marks the one-year anniversary of the official declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The first case of coronavirus was reported in the U.S. in January 2020. Two months later, the infection rate was accelerating, prompting former President Trump to declare novel coronavirus a national emergency, unlocking billions of dollars in federal funding to mitigate the spread. What ensued was unprecedented. Worldwide quarantines shuttered businesses, churches, and schools, bringing life as we knew it to a screeching halt. Sports arenas were silent. Streets were vacant, and grocery store shelves bare.
Linguistic anthropology dives into how people use language to create culture, enact different identities, tell stories, and create relationships. But language is continuously changing. In the U.S., Hispanics are becoming more English dominant. Spanish speakers or descendants of Spanish speakers are encountering a different linguistic experience as language evolves to meet the needs of Hispanics in the present day. The Spanish language has been influenced by the American ethos resulting in a hybrid language, known as Spanglish, which sits at the intersection of language (Spanish and English) and culture.
U.S. consumers adjusted their expectations last year as COVID-19, social injustice, and contentious presidential and senatorial races sent the country into a tailspin. Given the unprecedented disruption, the findings of our sixth annual ThinkNow Pulse™ Report, a national survey examining consumer sentiment across key demographics in the U.S., are especially relevant as marketers scramble to get a pulse on the post-pandemic consumer. Fielded in December 2020, Americans report worsened personal finances and a perception of a weakening economy, and the outlook for 2021 didn’t fare much better.
Latin American brands often feel overly confident in entering the U.S. market. Having experienced success in their home markets, they look to replicate that brand affinity north of the border, often using the same strategy that won at home. But, that affinity doesn’t always translate into a successful entry, especially when brands fail to realize and plan for the shift from a mostly homogeneous cultural group to a more diverse society composed of varied multicultural backgrounds, cultural influences, and behavioral drivers. The tendency of LatAm brands to target their core Hispanic constituency can cause missed opportunities to reach broader markets.
Bilingual and bicultural Latino Americans often serve as “digital sherpas,” or guides, for foreign-born family members who have yet to master the American ethos and language. Navigating the intersectionality of both U.S. and Latino value systems, these interpreters often inform brand and product purchases, search, and content consumption for friends and family members from an early age. These “digital sherpas” wield their authority at many points in their lives by influencing purchase decisions and demystifying new technologies and services.