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We've come (and are going) a long way, bebé

Posted by Chad O'Connor  March 20, 2013 11:00 AM

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[Editor's Note: Global Business Hub Contributor Ellen Keiley's segment on RadioBDC didn't happen this week thanks to the inclement weather. Check her out next week on 3/26]

On Election Day 2012, one of every six people in the US was Hispanic (16.3% of the population). One out of ten people who showed up at the polls was Hispanic. Of those, seven out of ten voted for Obama.

Now, fast forward four election cycles to 2032 and run the numbers. Nearly a quarter of Americans will be of Hispanic origin; project four cycles beyond that and nearly a third of Americans will be of Hispanic descent.

Why? Unless there’s a massive change in US immigration policy, there has to be another explanation. There is – and it’s something as simple as fertility rates. Hispanics have more babies than any other group in the US, 2.53 compared with 2.03 for the US population as a whole. That’s a whole lot of bebés, so many that this family-producing generation is dubbed the “bebé boomers.”

According to Hispanic Group, a marketing group that focuses on ultrasegmentation, “Hispanics are known super consumers... Now more than ever marketers need to pay close attention to Bebé Boomers and communicate with them on their level, which goes beyond just translating advertising into Spanish with a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Clearly the Democrats have caught on to this massive shift—and are preparing for the future. What was successful about the donkey party’s marketing strategy that the elephant loyalists missed?

Democrats outnumbered the Republicans on advertising. In fact, according the Wesleyan Media Project, Obama aired 1,800 more ads than Romney and his allies in Denver; 1,700 more in Norfolk, Virginia; and 1,500 more in Orlando–all in the last three weeks. Furthermore, according to public records for advertising reported on the National Journal, highly contested states like Ohio, Obama for America outspent the Romney for President Campaign by 68% or about $29 million. Democrats also took the social media bull by the horns by optimizing their use of all the tools of the Facebook and Twitter era.

Moreover, non-partisan voter organizations went beyond ethnicity and segmented the market by country of origin. For example, In New England, and particularly here in Massachusetts, Univision Nueva Inglaterra created a local version of a TV PSA announcement with personalities encouraging people to vote. This was a national campaign called “Libera Tu Voz” but a local flavor was added with community leaders and personalities inviting voters to get out and mark their ballot.

Given that Hispanic buying power now represents $1 trillion dollars according to most recent Nielsen reports, advertisers are spending a paltry sum compared to general market spending. US Hispanic advertising spending comprises only 5.4% of total advertising budgets, despite the large and growing Hispanic population. It might be prudent for those doling out the media dollars to take a page from the politicians. Here are a couple of pointers:

1. When in Denver, speak a Mexican infused Denvish.
Denver, which is the most populated city in Colorado, has experienced 300% growth in Hispanic residents over the past twenty years. In Colorado 90% of Hispanics come from Mexico.

2. Equally, when in Massachusetts, speak with the new “Bahston” Latino accent.
We might only represent 10% of the city population; however the growth of our population has increased more than 52% between 2000 and 2011. This market is also one of the most fragmented by ethnic origin in the country.

In summary, think strategically as this ever growing and evolving population assimilates and adapts to what many call the New America. If you do not plan to introduce your product or service to this community, your business might get stuck in 2012.

So if we circle back (or zoom ahead, as it were) to 2050 when Quinceañeras—fifteenth birthday parties—will certainly be as well known as confirmations and bat mitzvahs, what will that election look like? For starters, one in every three voters will be of Hispanic origin. Hispanics will be younger than the general population. The average Hispanic will be 31 years old.

Will a second or third Hispanic president be elected? Will half the cabinet members be Hispanic? Will NAFTA be so firmly implanted that people move from Ottawa to Omaha to Oaxaca without even needing work visas? Who knows, but it’s likely we’ll be speaking a lot more Spanglish in the US. Your grandkids will be studying a lot more Latin American history than they are today. And significant advertising dollars will certainly be flowing in our direction. We have come a long way, bebé, and there sure are going to be a lot of us.

Raul Medina, born in Mexico, is Director of Integrated Marketing for MÁS Media based in Somerville, MA. MÁS Media serves the Hispanic community in New England with its leading media outlets: @elplanetaboston, @bostonmastv, and @healthandfammag.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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