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Latinos Getting More Complex

By Mari D. González

I am very please to have an echo on the fact that the more the number of Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S. increases, the more they need to be segmented because their complexity as well increases.

Last July, I submitted a research paper for possible publication at the Journal of Internationalisation and Localisation (JIAL) titled “Interactive Food & Beverage Marketing: Targeting Latino Youth in the Digital Age.” The study covered:

“Recent interest in the Latino/Hispanic population and culture has lead to fruitful research and increased attention on U.S. Latinos/Hispanics…. Marketing that targets Latino/Hispanic youth, has become promising, specialized, and lucrative. [This study] investigates the type of cultural knowledge marketing researchers are using to target Latino/Hispanic youth…. It explores how the ever-growing access to digital media changes the way the food and beverage companies do business with Latino/Hispanic youth” (Gonzalez, M.D., 2009, p. 4).

My findings show that Latinos/Hispanics specifically youth are creating a new “hybrid” culture which marketers need to take into account. They cannot effectively be reached by Spanish-only media nor are they being attracted to mainstream mass media because they do not culturally identify with it.

Marketers are loosing the mark of this large and continuously growing population of bicultural and bilingual digital media savvy generation if they do no pay attention to what matters to them. For instance, while they listen to the whole spectrum of music in English, from rock to hip pop, they also listen to “rancheras” (Mexican country music) by Vicente Fernandez.

The following information posted by Louis Pagan makes an interesting comparison on how Latinos/Hispanics continue to use their cultural strengths such as “being personal” and “sociable” while using media to network and advertise:  http://louispagan.com/?p=453

Latino or Hispanic

By Mari D. González

Last year, I wrote a paper for school on the meaning of the terms Latino and Hispanic according to the people being categorized. Aside from the literature review, I interviewed eight self-identified Latinos or Hispanics and these were my findings.

Since its inception by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget in 1977, the term Hispanic has been both controversial and accepted by different circles to categorize people with ancestry in Spain and Spanish-speaking countries of the Western hemisphere. Some argue that choosing one label over the other is a matter of assimilation while others choose a label to state pride of having developed an agreeable ethnic identity. Several authors (Martin, 2005; Acuña, 2000; Gonzales, 1999; Rodriguez, 2007) acknowledge the political implications behind the choice of a specific label. Martin (2005) in particular proposes to analyze the term Latino in the context of “reinterpretation” of an existing name that has sprung from political movements dating back to the 1960’s (p. 397). Other researchers (Korzenny & Korzenny, 2005; Rodriguez, 2007; Davila, 2001) recognize a different and significant dynamic – the capitalizing of the consumer power through the use of the label Hispanic which is representative of a common linguistic indicator.

The term Hispanic is inaccurate because is not perceived by the receivers as representative of their “broader culture” and because it implies that “all” Latino/Hispanic speak Spanish. The term Hispanic does however speak of the Spanish colonization from which the Spanish language was instituted. Yet, not all people who live in Latin America speak Spanish such as the many Indigenous people across the continent. The term Hispanic however, is seen as convenient through the use of census data to make the case for the allocation of funds that support language-based social service programs and for marketers and advertisers to sell Spanish media programs by arguing that if not all, the majority of Hispanics prefer to speak Spanish.

Individuals who are more aware of the labels’ socio-politics argue that neither the term Hispanic nor Latino applies to them because they want to distance themselves from the negative stereotypes more commonly attached to Mexican immigrants and people of Mexican descent who have dealt with a second colonization by historically being categorized as second-class group since the time their first-class citizenship rights were stripped off them in the nineteen century when the U.S. west border moved further south.

Californians in contrast to New Mexicans prefer using the term Latino(a) when given the choice between Latino(a) and Hispanic. For more educated Californians, “Latino” is the new Chicano in that it evokes their indigenous roots, a shared history of struggle and the colonization of the people in Latin American countries. Latino as a term is self-appropriated; it comes from the people which might have been the legacy from the Chicano movement. It is not surprising that Latinos in California are more aware of the political connotation of the term Latino because Chicano studies departments are at many state universities in the Southwestern United States, particularly in California.

Hispanic Marketing and Culture

By Mari D. González

In the past four years, I have studied how effectively cultural research has been utilized by marketers to target ethnic groups, specifically Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S. On my most recent research, I focused on youth because they represent a demographic group that is bilingual and bicultural and because they are most susceptible to new trends and technology.

I investigated the type of cultural knowledge marketing researchers use to target Latino/Hispanic youth and the effectiveness of their interactive advertising campaigns. The study explored how the ever-growing access to digital media changed the way the food and beverage companies do business with Latino/Hispanic youth. The purpose of the study was to provide further understanding on marketing to U.S. Latinos particularly acculturated youth who shift back and forth between two cultures and that has shaped the focus of my academic research.

The study was presented at the LISA Forum Berkeleyand the academic paper was published at the Journal for Internationalisation and Localisation at Lessius Hogeschool in December, 2009.