Was the 2010 Census anti-climactic for the Hispanic marketing industry?
September 1st, 2011
Posted by Jose Villa
Anyone who has been in the business of Hispanic marketing for 20+ years will tell you that the 1990 and 2000 Census results were game-changers for the business. The two Census results that ended the 20th century brought the industry to life, catalyze
d a huge expansion in both the media and advertising sides of the business, and ushered in an unprecedented level of attention from corporate America on the need to address this “new” demographic and commercial opportunity.
The 2000 Census was particularly impactful, with tons of media attention from the cover of Time magazine to lead stories throughout most of the American media. In fact, since the 2000 Census figures ushered in this new level of attention to the Hispanic market, there have been at least:
• 45 new Hispanic ad agencies launched
• 38 new Spanish-language newspapers put into circulation
• 1,250 new Spanish-language and Hispanic-targeted television networks on air
• 100+ new Hispanic-targeted Websites
Most importantly, there was a significant expansion in resources dedicated to the
Hispanic market by Corporate America, primarily in the form new marketing hires, new departments and groups focused on the Hispanic market, numerous acquisitions, and countless new product launches.
Naturally, there was a lot of excitement and anticipation in our industry leading towards the unveiling of the 2010 Census results. I think it’s fair to say that most in our industry were expecting the 2010 Hispanic population data to spur at least as much new activity as the 2000 and 1990 Census results did. Many, I would argue, expected even more attention and business activity to have been spurred by the 2010 Census in the year following the unveiling of the results.
Well, it’s been almost 6 months since the 2010 Census results were released, and everyone now knows the Hispanic market has topped 50 million.
And tell me if I’m wrong, but there really hasn’t been that big of a boom in the Hispanic market?
Talking to industry colleagues in the last few months, they corroborate my theory. No Time magazine cover stories. No new Hispanic agency reviews by companies that have yet to jump into the Hispanic market. There have been very few, if any, new Hispanic ad agencies or Hispanic media companies?
A lot of this lack of activity can surely be attributed to the ongoing economic issues facing the country and the fact that a lot of companies are hesitate to invest in new markets and programs.
But I think there is more going on here than just the economy. Here are my theories, in order of magnitude of impact:
1. Most of the low hanging fruit has been picked – Most major marketers in the U.S. are already involved at some level in Hispanic advertising. There really weren’t that many companies left on the sidelines as of April 2011.
2. The Census numbers revealed two Hispanic markets – According to the latest Census figures, a whopping 63% of U.S. Hispanics were born in the U.S. That one statistic has underlined a profound debate in the industry about whether Hispanics, particularly English-speaking more acculturated Hispanics, are still a distinct segment, with distinct media consumption habits that Hispanic-specific marketing programs should or even could effectively reach.
3. The power of expectations – One can argue that 2010 was the first Census when everyone had big expectations regarding the growth of the Hispanic population. I think a lot of people were expecting big numbers, north of 50 million. Bottom line, no one was surprised by the eventual figure, and so it did not lead to new activity, since everyone had already planned for it. Put another way, the effects of the anticipated Census results were already baked into most company’s plans.
4. The trend towards general market consolidation is impacting the industry – Anyone who has ever read my past blogs knows that there has been an undeniable trend towards marketers consolidating their Hispanic marketing and advertising programs with general market agencies. That, in my opinion, has reduced the prominence, role and budgets of many Hispanic marketing initiatives.
5. More Hispanics doesn’t mean more spending – As the economy has struggled, minority groups like Hispanics and African-Americans have borne a bigger negative impact, as revealed by the unemployment figures in the Hispanic market, which are much higher than the overall national averages. So although the population has increased, many marketers are seeing a Hispanic consumer with less disposable income, and therefore a potentially less attractive market than in past years.
Have the 2010 Census figures been as big
of a let-down for you as well? Is it too early to call? I’d love to hear your thoughts…
(an edited version of this article originally ran on MediaPost’s Engage Hispanic blog on 9/1/2011)
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