Monday, August 22, 2011

The story behind the numbers: What you need to know about the soaring growth of Hispanics and how to reach them

July 18, 2011 | by Bill King

The vice president of corporate marketing for Spanish-language media giant Univision was leading a focus group of young adult viewers in New York this month when she met an intriguing 21-year-old college student.

He began by speaking to her in clear, crisp English. When she shifted to Spanish, she suspected the student would reply in English again, as many young bilinguals might when speaking with their parents.

“Much to my surprise, he was so Mexican you wouldn’t believe it,” said Chiqui Cartagena, who joined the network in April after 25 years working with agencies and brands.

When she asked about his viewing habits, he told her that, like many U.S. Hispanics, he was glued to Univision when the network aired soccer.

“I won’t watch soccer unless it’s in Spanish,” he told her. “It’s not the same experience for me, as a Latino, to watch it in English.”

Much has been made of the latest U.S. census, which confirmed what demographers predicted through the better part of the last decade. In 2010, there were 50.5 million U.S. Hispanics, up 43 percent from the previous census. In the last 10 years, Hispanics accounted for 56 percent of U.S. growth. Those numbers have gotten the attention of the marketing and advertising community.

But some deeper numbers are more revealing. With a median age of 27, Hispanics are a full decade younger than the rest of the country. More than 17 million of them are under age 18. About 62 percent of them were born in the U.S., according to Pew Hispanic Center data. More than three in four speak both Spanish and English.

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