Hispanic Millennials: Opportunity amidst the Hype?

December 5, 2013

Posted by Jose Villa

As in the general market, more and more Hispanic marketing attention is focused on the “coming of age” generational cohort known as Millennials. Hispanic Millennials generally refers to U.S. Hispanics born between 1981-2000 [] or 1980-1995 [] (ages 13-32 or 18-35). There are many variations of the definition used by market researchers and pundits. As with any large, relatively young generation that contains the marketing “sweet spot” of 18-25 year olds, this group draws a lot of attention for obvious reasons.Hispanic Millennials

First is their sheer size – 65 percent of all U.S. Hispanics are Millennials []. They represent 21 percent of the entire Millennial population [], and in key markets like Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, New York and Chicago, they represent 25 to 50 percent of all Millennials. []

As a Hispanic marketer, the first question that surfaces is whether Hispanic Millennials are different from their older counterparts. They share a lot of important similarities. As with other Hispanics they continue to be more optimistic about the future, carry less debt [], and have more children at a younger age [] than their mainstream counterparts. They are also growing rapidly in non-traditional markets like Atlanta, Indianapolis and Charlotte, N.C. []. They continue to drive increases in multi-generational households, with 45 percent living with their parents [].

Yet Hispanic Millennials are different from other U.S. Hispanics in some fundamental ways – two-thirds are U.S. born and 40 percent are bilingual. They are closing the educational gap, as more are attending college [], and are marrying much later. Psychographically, they are very aware of their influence in the U.S. []

Hispanic Millennials share a lot of similarities with their mainstream counterparts outside education attainment, delayed marriage and living with their parents. This includes heavy digital media consumption and technology usage []. All millennials have come of age in the “new normal” of the 2008 recession and the economic uncertainty and career challenges of the last five years, which is significantly affecting their behavior, attitudes and consumption patterns. Moreover, like mainstream Millennials, they are a large, diverse and complex population. More researchers are coming to understand multiple Hispanic Millennial segments defined by country of birth, acculturation level, age, geography, country of origin, or income.

Attention to Hispanic Millennials is due to more than population size. The more research that is done on this group, the more some fundamental differences with their mainstream counterparts “bubble up,” leading to some fundamental questions about how to approach them. Two powerful distinctions stand out among Hispanic Millennials. The first is their “hyphenated” cultural. Hispanic Millennials make up the greatest share of bicultural Hispanics as discussed in a previous post. They very much define themselves via a hyphenated culture of being both Hispanic and American. [] The result is a new “parity” cultural identity, fueled by combination of bilingualism, technology connections to Latin America, and continued retro acculturation among Millennials. As the New Latino PLUS+ Identity [] report posits, Hispanics Millennials are embracing a “bigger, more inclusive definition of Latino and American identity.”

So, is there an opportunity for targeted and unique marketing efforts towards Hispanic Millennials? Alternatively, are Hispanic Millennials just a key part of a patchwork of a new American mainstream that requires a new mainstream approach? Media companies like Fusion, Hulu Latino, and El Rey, as well as some pioneering brands like Taco Bell, Mattel and Doritos, are all taking different approaches. Yet their big bets indicate they see large payoffs with Hispanic millennials.

(an edited version of this post originally ran on MediaPost Engage:Hispanic on December 5, 2013)

[] Pew Research Center
[] PWC
[] NPD Group
[] Geoscape, American Marketplace, 2013
[] Geoscape, American Marketplace DataStream 2013
[] PNC Financial Services Group Survey, September 2013
[] AHAA Fast Facts
[] Geoscape, 2013-2018 State Hispanic Gen Y population American Marketscape DataStream™ 2013 Series
[] MTV TR3s Research study, 2013
[] Geoscape, American Marketscape DataStream™ 2013 Series, AA/BA degrees attained by Hispanic, Pew Hispanic Report 2013
[] The Intelligence Group, 2008 Latino Lifestyle Study
[] Nielsen Npower 2013; Comscore Audience Analytics, Hispanic 18-34
[] Experian Simmons, Bicultural Hispanics (18-34) Spring Full Year Study, 2013 Series
[] EthniFacts LatinWorks The Plus+ Identity, February 2013

About Jose Villa

I’m the founder and President of Sensis, a cross-cultural advertising agency with digital at its core. I launched Sensis as a Web development firm in 1998 and one of the first agencies focusing on the Hispanic digital market. Our agency has since grown into a unique full-service ad agency – that takes a digitally-infused cross-cultural approach to the general market. I am passionate about cross-cultural marketing and always trying to push the envelope of multicultural advertising. I write regularly for MediaPost, AdAge, HispanicAd.com, and here! I also speak at a lot of advertising conferences like SXSW, Hispanic Retail 360, Hispanicize, and AHAA.