I had just completed a new blog post this week when the Pew Hispanic Center released another study. This one is about the turnaround in Mexican immigration. According to the report, immigration from Mexico has dropped to zero and possibly even less. Like their previous report about Hispanic/Latino identity, this latest report also has implications for marketers and brands. So, is this now the end of Hispanic marketing? Again, not really.
Here is what the Pew Hispanic Center report states:
The largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States has come to a standstill. After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants—more than half of who came illegally—the net migration flow from Mexico to the U.S. has stopped and may have reversed. The standstill appears to result from the weakened U.S. job market, heightened border enforcement, a rise in deportations, the growing dangers associated with illegal border crossings, and changing economic and demographic conditions in Mexico.
It is unknown if this immigration standstill is permanent or temporary, according to some reports. Regardless, since it is immigrants that from Mexico have fueled Latino growth in the U.S. for the past few decades, can it also be assumed that future Latino growth will come to an end? Not necessarily.
It is important to acknowledge that future growth for U.S. Latino communities will not come from immigration but from those Latinos who are native born. This younger generation has already asserted their power in numbers within states in the southwest and California. For example, according to U.S. Census, Latinos under 18 in California are now the majority at 51%. Considering that Caucasian populations have been decreasing, it doesn’t’ take a mathematician to predict the demographic shift that will occur over the next 20 to 30 years as younger Latinos begin to come of age. The immigration standstill may slow this growth, but I believe we can continue to expect continued growth for Hispanics within U.S. borders.
With the dominance of younger and presumably more acculturated Latinos combined with a drop in Latin American immigrants from Mexico, can we also expect a cultural shift within Hispanic populations over the next decades? Additionally, as this younger, more diverse, and acculturated Latino population steps up, can we also assume they will be English dominant? Will the sum of this mean we can also expect marketing efforts to steer away from traditional Spanish language media? Some experts have already begun to speculate.
Jose Villa, a principal at the multicultural ad agency Sensis, made the following speculations in a recent blog post:
• U.S. born Hispanics will continue to grow as a percentage of the overall Hispanic population – further driving the importance of this more acculturated segment
• A relative decline in the percentage of Hispanics that are of Mexican descent – further diversifying the already diverse U.S. Hispanic population (this assumes sustained net immigration from other Latin American countries)
• Potential downward revisions for Hispanic populations estimates issued by the U.S. Census for 2020 and 2030 – it may take a lot longer to see Hispanics making up 25% of the U.S. population
• A decline in Mexican net immigration could lead to more mixed race marriages in the future – and a continued growth in the rapidly growing “2 or more” race segment in 10-20 years.
In closing, I need to emphasize the importance of an empathic understanding for Hispanic marketing efforts. We will need to pay close attention to this “moving target” in order to deliver value with our brands. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when marketing to Latinos. This will continue to be true regardless of immigration or population changes.