Seasoned marketers often look back at the 1950s with great nostalgia. America was entering a new era in which post-war families were on the rise and home ownership was becoming a reality for many consumers. Marketers were filled with an overwhelming sense of optimism.
The vitality of that economy was based on the bright future of the American worker and his family. After all, it takes a lot of purchases to set up a household and raise children. And, consumer purchasing has always driven economic recovery and vitality in the US.
Today, a new American dream is on the rise, and it is just as vital and powerful as the one in the heyday of the baby-boom generation. The increase in the number of Hispanic consumers and their growing power account for much of the long-term prosperity of our dynamic economy.
The recognition of this sea change in our society is no longer the exclusive domain of savvy or visionary marketers—it marks the new mainstream of consumer marketing for many brands. And for those companies, these changes will mean the difference between prosperity or marketplace demise.
Key population trends are setting the stage for the new American mainstream. According to the US Census and the Pew Hispanic Center:
- From 2000 to 2004, the US Hispanic population grew to more than 40 million—an increase of 14%.
- By comparison, non-Hispanic growth saw a marginal increase of less than 2%.
- Several forecasts predict that within the next five years one in four adults will be Hispanic.
- The Hispanic population is younger by and has larger families than the national average.
- The birthrate among Hispanic families is twice as high as the population in general.
- The increase in the population of US-born Hispanics will account for an increasing amount of overall Hispanic growth.
- Hispanic populations are beginning to spread geographically into states that are not traditionally Hispanic, such as Georgia, Oregon and Washington.
- The Hispanic unemployment level is somewhat higher than that of the overall population, but it is lower than that of other groups, such as non-Hispanic African-Americans.
Admittedly, Hispanics have not yet amassed wealth or income levels equivalent to those of non-Hispanic consumers. However, half of US job growth since the 1970s is attributable to Hispanic population increases.
In the year following the 2001 recession, Hispanics recovered nearly all of the ground lost in the previous two years. And the rate of growth in the Hispanic consumer base has outpaced the economy's dampening effect on Hispanic income. As a result, the overall segment growth rate in purchasing power explains US marketers' increasing focus on Hispanic consumers.
One thing is clear: The rapid growth of Hispanic households is laying the foundation for the consumerism that will inevitably follow. Marketers who long for the days gone by of the baby boomer will recognize a familiar pattern in these fundamental population trends.