Maybe there is the beginning of a trend that will help direct marketers with language options in the Hispanic market

July 23, 2005

Study Reports Spanish-Speaking Hispanic Market Here To Stay

July 20, 2005

By Cara Marcano

The number of Spanish-speaking Hispanics will continue to grow at a rapid pace, and Spanish-language media, marketing and advertising will be crucial for companies seeking to grow their Hispanic customer bases for the next 20 years, according to a new study released today by Miami-based consulting firm Hispanic USA.

The three-month study, conducted by Roslow Research Group for Hispanic USA, was compiled with data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Pew Hispanic Center, the State University of New York Albany and other original research.

The study reports on the U.S. Hispanic population in 2005 and forecasts how many will be speaking Spanish in 2015 and 2025. While the overall percent of Hispanics who speak Spanish will fall from 75 percent to 66 percent of the total U.S. Hispanic population in the next 25 years, according to Peter Roslow, director of the study, the raw number of Spanish-speaking Hispanics will actually grow 45 percent, from 27.8 million to 40.2 million people.

At some yet undetermined point, the number and pace of growth of second- and third-generation Hispanics will outpace that of those foreign born, Roslow says. But given the accelerating growth of the second and third generations, the number of Spanish-speaking U.S. Hispanics ages 18 to 49 will grow from 18.3 million to 23.4 million by 2025.

Today, the largest number of Spanish-speaking Hispanics are 18 to 34, the age range encompassing most first-generation immigrants, of which more than 90 percent speak Spanish.

Meanwhile the U.S. Hispanic population ages 18-34 will grow 50 percent from 2005 to 2025, from 10.1 million to 15.2 million, the study reports.

While the study does not determine how many U.S. Hispanics are Spanish-dominant or Spanish-preferred, Roslow notes that the number of Hispanics indicting that they spoke Spanish at home changed little from 1980 to 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Jose Cancela, principal of Hispanic USA, encourages clients to follow a “50-25-25" rule. Fifty percent of U.S. Hispanics are and will continue to be Spanish dominant, 25 percent are bilingual and bicultural and 25 percent are full acculturated members of the general market, he says.

To predict the growth of the U.S. Spanish-speaking population, the study assumed a conservative annual rate of immigration of about 275,000 immigrants, of which 80 percent included Hispanics. Some demographers estimate annual rate of immigration to the U.S. in excess of 450,000 immigrants. In addition to the steady supply of Hispanic immigrants from Latin America, Spanish language in the United States is also being kept alive by the explosion of Spanish-language media, notes Cancela.

"For the first time in the history of this country you have the proliferation of the Spanish-language media. There are 80 independent Spanish television stations, 650 Arbitron-ranked radio stations and 1,000 print publications in Spanish," he says.

Traditionally, demographers consider an immigrant family's native language to be lost on that family's third generation -- the grandchildren of the original immigrants. But that hasn't been the case in the Hispanic market, says Roslow. According to the study, some 35 percent of third-generation Hispanics say they speak Spanish.

Admittedly the Hispanic USA research does not tell marketers or advertisers how many of those who self-identify as Hispanic Spanish-speakers actually prefer to be marketed to in Spanish, says Roslow.

What it does is give corporate America is a sense of how many consumers out there can understand messaging in Spanish, says Cancela. It is also a wake-up call to marketers who think they are going to be able to reach the majority of the U.S. Hispanic market with general-market English-language work alone, he says.

"What are you doing taking money out of the non-acculturated budgets to talk to acculturated Hispanics?" asks Cancela, arguing that the funds designated to reach young, acculturated Hispanics should come from the general-market budgets, not from the already small thousand-dollar pools currently used by Hispanic ad agencies and marketing directors to talk to their constituencies in language.

"The money to talk to the acculturated market shouldn't come at the expense of the Hispanic advertising budget," says Cancela, a former senior executive for Univision Communications and Telemundo.

Research in the marketplace has been front and center this week.

People en Español released the fourth wave of its Hispanic Opinion Tracker research, better known as the HOT study, which was helmed by market research firm Synovate,

The Time Inc. title commissioned the annual study to probe into category-specific areas such as shopping, entertainment, food, health issues and brand loyalty, with a comparison between Latinos and the general population.

The study was anchored by 6,000 phone interviews with Latinos and 2,000 calls to non-Hispanics. The results also concluded that Spanish-language advertising indeed is the best way to reach the majority of Hispanic consumers. The HOT study breaks down the segmentation of the market as 55 percent Hispanic dominant, 23 percent bicultural and 21 percent U.S. dominant. Acculturation had a bigger slice of the study this year, pointing to shifting Hispanic consumer behavior.

The third-annual AOL/Roper Hispanic Cyberstudy, officially released Monday, tracks the growing demand and influence on Latinos.

Earlier this month, on July 6, marketing consultancy Yankelovich Inc. unveiled its MONITOR Multicultural Marketing Study, which tracked consumer behavior among Hispanics and African Americans. According to the study, 53 percent of Hispanics say that they are "extremely concerned about the practices and motives of marketers and advertisers." However, this doesn't mean that Hispanics are not paying attention to advertising.

All the studies have one shared result that is not surprising: More Spanish-language information is needed in the marketplace.

Contributing: Nancy Ayala and Mariana Lemann

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