America Is Becoming More Latino, And It Can’t Be Stopped

In an opinion piece appearing in the April 21, 2013 edition of The New York Times, Washington Bureau Chief David Leonhardt declares that Hispanics are “the New Italians.”

To be fair, Hispanics could also be “the New Germans,” or perhaps the New Chinese or New Jews. Each of these groups, when they first arrived on American shores in the 1800s, continued to use their native language and clung to their culture in ways that led Americans to wonder if these new immigrants would ever assimilate.

As we all know, Germans and Italians are fully integrated into the American mainstream. All but a small segment of observant Jews and first-generation Chinese are also largely assimilated. And that’s where the Latino population is headed, Leonhardt concludes. Citing Pew Research Center data featured in the February 2013 report Second-Generation Americans, Leonhardt points to higher high school and college graduation rates among second-generation Latinos, compared to first-generation Latinos. He also took note of the higher home ownership rates and median household income among second-generation Hispanics.

The findings could present even more headaches for Hispanic advertising agencies and multicultural marketers who every day are confronted with findings that suggest Hispanics—like every previous group of immigrants—will eventually “become American.”  Of course, we know better. The reverse is happening. America is becoming more Latino. And, this can’t be stopped.

As Leonhardt points out, “unlike previous generations of immigrants, today’s can remain in daily telephone and video contact with their homeland.”  In the case of Hispanics, one has instant access to Spanish-language television, radio, print media, digital media, and social media created expressly for U.S. audiences. Italians and Germans didn’t exactly have their Univision.

AmericanUniversity history professor Alan Kraut, interviewed by Leonhardt, believes that “everything with Latinos points to a very typical pattern of integration in American life in a generation or two.”  That’s not entirely true. While future generations of Latinos will indeed have higher matriculation levels, leading to greater income potential and increased buying power, they remain closely tied to their culture and their heritage. As a result, Hispanics aren’t assimilating. Rather, they are reshaping what it means to be American.

As we discuss throughout Hispanic Market Overview 2013, set for release April 29 exclusively by, Spanish-language media is alive and well, and growing. Digital platforms are bringing culturally relevant content—and marketing messages—to a growing group of consumers that use Spanish, or English, or both. Pending immigration reform will increase the need for relevant Hispanic media.  An improved economy could bring another wave of immigrants from Latin America to the U.S.

Hispanic advertising professionals already know this.

The question is this: Are multicultural marketers willing to listen and learn?


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