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By Diane Toops, News and Trends Editor | 09/07/2012
For the first time, racial and ethnic minorities make up more than half the children born in the U.S., reports the Huffington Post/Associated Press. And a headline earlier this year predicted collective minorities would become the majority in the U.S. as early as 2040 – although more recent studies are pushing that date back as immigration has slowed, probably due to the weak economy.
Nevertheless, Hispanics and Asians, in particular, are forces to be reckoned with – and marketed to. Every food & beverage processor that wants to be around in 2040, or maybe even 2020, is creating strategies to appeal to these groups.
The annual growth rates for Hispanics, who make up 16.7 percent of our population, and Asians, who represent 4.8 percent, fell sharply last year to about 2.2 percent, roughly half the rates in 2000. The growth rate of Blacks, who comprise about 12.3 percent of the population, stayed flat at 1 percent, as did that of Caucasians.
So, despite some slowing, the nation's minority population continues to rise, following a higher-than-expected Hispanic count in the 2010 census. Minorities increased 1.9 percent to 114.1 million, or 36.6 percent of the total U.S. population, boosted by earlier waves of immigration of young families and Hispanic women in their prime childbearing years. With relatively high fertility rates – seven births for every death – the median age of U.S. Hispanics is 27.6 years compared to 42 for whites.
The danger – for marketers and for stories like this one – is to imply that you can market to a unified demographic called "Hispanics." The Hispanic population in America hails from some 24 Latin American countries – all but Portuguese-speaking Brazil. And even that connected group is a diversity of cultures. Some demographers include European Spanish in this category. Change the term to Latino and you can include Brazil and Portugal. Despite that warning, we will continue to address them collectively as Hispanics in this article.
First of all, Hispanic or Latino? Answer: They either don't care or don't care for either. Nearly four decades after the U.S. government mandated the use of those terms to categorize Americans who trace their roots to Spanish-speaking countries, a new Pew Hispanic Center study of 1,220 U.S. Latino adults finds that most respondents don't care if they are called Hispanic or Latino. Of those that do care, Hispanic is preferred by 33 percent, versus 14 percent who prefer Latino.
Fifty-one percent of those surveyed say they use their family's country of origin to describe their identity. That includes such terms as "Mexican" or "Cuban" or "Dominican." Twenty-four percent say they use the terms Hispanic or Latino, and 21 percent say they use American most often.
The study found. U.S.-born Hispanics (who now make up 48 percent of Hispanic adults) express a stronger sense of affinity with other Americans and America than do immigrant Hispanics. The survey finds that 38 percent of all respondents are Spanish language-dominant, 38 percent are bilingual and 24 percent are English-dominant. Among U.S.-born Hispanics, 51 percent are English-dominant.
Race is another tricky issue. Most Hispanics don't see themselves fitting into the U.S. Census Bureau standard racial categories. When it comes to race, 51 of Latinos identify their race as "some other race" or "Hispanic/Latino." Meanwhile, 36 percent identify their race as white, and 3 percent say their race is black.
Some 69 percent say that the more than 50 million Latinos in the U.S. have many different cultures rather than a common culture. Respondents do express a strong, shared connection to the Spanish language. Some 82 percent say they speak Spanish, and nearly all (95 percent) say it is important for future generations to continue to do so.
Every 30 seconds a young Hispanic turns 18. It is the fastest growing and most influential segment of the U.S. population, with a collective buying power reaching $1 trillion, according to The Hartman Group (www.hartman-group.com), Bellevue, Wash.
Hartman is working on a deep-dive exploration of the lifestyle and shopping behaviors of U.S. Hispanic consumers, both unacculturated (recent arrivals to the U.S., with Spanish as their dominant language) and acculturated (cultural modification or adaption due to prolonged contact, they tend to be bilingual). And now we have a generation of U.S.-born Latinos, who are not fluent in Spanish even though they are exposed to the language their parents speak at home.
One apparent truism is that preparing traditional family meals is of high value to Latinos, but the need for convenient foods is increasing, according to Univision Communications Inc. Cooking traditional foods goes beyond providing healthy, nutritious meals; it represents the importance of family time and offers a way to keep the Hispanic culture alive.
Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, Goya Foods Inc. (www.goya.com), Secaucus, N.J., is America's largest Hispanic-owned food company. It markets more than 1,600 Hispanic and Caribbean grocery items, including canned and dried beans, canned meats, beverages, cooking oils, olives, rice, seasonings and sauces, plantain and yucca chips, frozen treats and entrees.
It sells many different types of rice and nearly 40 types of beans and peas under the Goya and Canilla brands. It also sells beverages such as tropical fruit nectars, juices, tropical sodas, and coffee, and its operations span the globe.
Founded in 1936 by Don Prudencio Unanue and his wife Carolina, both from Spain, the Goya story is as much about family as it is about achieving the American dream. Believing the Unanue name would be too difficult for Americans to pronounce, he purchased the easier to pronounce Goya name for $1. The company is the leading authority on authentic Hispanic food and products from the Caribbean, Mexico, Spain, Central and South America.