By definition, acculturation is the adoption of the behavior patterns of the surrounding culture. To simplify, acculturation is the time between arrival to a new culture and assimilation into that culture.
The acculturation process takes an estimated 10-15 years and varies from person to person. Hispanics have longer acculturation periods because they keep their values, celebrate their heritage, and pass those values and that heritage from generation to generation.
Hispanics tend not to assimilate as quickly as previous migration waves—for two reasons:
- The first reason is technology. Today it is easy and inexpensive to keep in touch with the homeland. The use of the Internet and advances in communications allow us to communicate with those on the other side of the world as easily as it is to talk to your neighbor.
- The second reason is "celebration of diversity." In the modern world, diversity is a good thing; whereas, 40-50 years ago, it was not socially accepted and immigrants made a greater effort to assimilate as fast as possible into their new host environment.
Now it is OK to be different; we not only acknowledge and accept diversity but also celebrate it.
Acculturation as Segmentation
We use acculturation as the first level of segmentation for the Hispanic market.
Acculturation level allows us to segment Hispanics by language attainment; income level; and, in many cases, purchasing behaviors.