The Hispanic or Latino Market

You may have heard both words to describe these markets. For purposes of this introduction, they can be considered interchangeable. They refer to the segment of the U.S. market comprised of people of Spanish and/or Latin-American heritage or origin.

As you may hear from our speakers, the U.S. Hispanic market represents 13 percent (depending on who you ask and how you view the data) of the U.S. population today. According to the latest census figures, of 281 million Americans there are 35.3 million Hispanics. That’s approximately 12.6% of the population.

The following charts show the data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Census data suggest the Black population, is approximately 34.7 million. The exact figure is uncertain because the 2000 census form allowed Americans, for the first time, to check off more than one race.

According to the nonpartisan Urban Institute, the number of illegal foreign residents in the U.S. is 8.5 million. Those numbers may confirm the viewpoint of some Latino market experts who think there are more Hispanics than those counted by the census. Latino market researchers indicate the census count doesn’t reflect the true number of Hispanics. They estimate that even viewed conservatively, the census figures omit 2 million Mexicans and possibly as many as 3 million “other” Latinos. In addition it is said there is an undercount of between 5% and 15%. Again, using a conservative figure that would be around 2 million. The 5 million illegal plus the 2 million undercount could mean there are at least 7 million more Hispanics that the 2000 census indicates. That would put the total number of Hispanics at around 42.3 million or 15% of the estimated population.

Still, using the census numbers Hispanic buying power is estimated conservatively at approximately $452 billion. If we look at Hispanics in business, according to SBA head Hector Barreto, there are 2 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S. and many more in the works.

Hispanic media are as diverse as the markets they serve. Print media are published in English, Spanish and in both languages. Their scope can be local, national or international. Broadcast media are usually Spanish dominant including a number of national tv networks and a broad range of radio stations and internet websites.

Hispanic markets are diverse and constantly changing. They range from the highly educated and affluent Latinos to high school drop outs and illiterate immigrants. Knowing what they share in common and how they differ can make the difference between a successful media and PR campaign and a disaster.

Understanding that there are subgroups within the Latino population is a first step. A basic grasp of the characteristics of the general market and the subgroups can go a long way toward reaching them effectively.

It’s not necessary to be Hispanic to target these markets successfully. It is essential to understand who they are.

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