Changing Face of the Marketplace: Latino Segment Presents Growth Opportunities

By Davis, KirLee | THE JOURNAL RECORD, October 24, 2011 | Go to article overview

Changing Face of the Marketplace: Latino Segment Presents Growth Opportunities


Davis, KirLee, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Any business not pursuing the Latino market is missing out on one of the nation's biggest growth opportunities, according to Kelly McDonald, founder of McDonald Marketing of Dallas.

"When you think about your future tourist customer, they're going to be Hispanic," McDonald said Monday at the Governor's Conference on Tourism, sponsored by the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association. "When you think about your future workforce, they will be Hispanic."

While she addressed tourism executives, McDonald outlined 2010 U.S. census general population trends affecting the entire U.S. economy. She also shared her agency's trademarked McDonald Marketing Latino Acculturation Stratification model outlining the four different levels of acculturation executives need to understand for connecting with this ethnic group (her preferred term is Latino, since it includes both Hispanics and Brazilians).

"Recognize that this is not a fad," McDonald told the Monday audience at Tulsa's Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. "This is a trend. It is not going away."

Drawing on the latest census data, the 20-plus-year industry veteran said the nation's growing Latino population of 50.5 million - up 43 percent from the year 2000 - accounts for one of every six people now in the U.S. While 61 percent of U.S. Hispanic adults are foreign-born, McDonald said 39 percent were born in this nation - and that's rising.

"Among children, one in four is Hispanic," said McDonald, whose nine-year-old agency has won national honors for its multicultural campaigns. "Every 30 seconds, a Latino turns 18 in the U.S."

To understand how to reach Latinos, McDonald said business executives must understand their acculturation steps. Her model outlines four classifications:

* "Cultural Loyalist" - foreign-born and recent arrivals to the U.S., dependent on the Spanish or Portuguese language, holder of traditional values, always expecting to eventually go home.

* "Cultural Embracer" - foreign-born but having adopted the U.S. as a permanent home, prefers their native tongue but is learning English, aspires and works hard to get ahead in a career.

* "Cross-cultural" - first-generation born in the U.S., bilingual and bicultural, professional, remains in touch with heritage.

* "Cultural Integrator" - U.S.-born, multigenerational but proud of Latino heritage, prefers English.

"It's not one size fits all," said McDonald, noting that only 8 percent of U.S. Hispanics are fully acculturated.

Since Hispanics embrace social media, especially on their mobile phones, McDonald said businesses may reach out to the Latino population without spending a great deal of money. But she recommended that the efforts not take shortcuts, such as translating a website to Spanish but using images of whites, or linking those sites to Facebook pages in English.

McDonald also noted certain cultural eccentricities firms should expect, such as the Hispanic pattern of using a website for checking on product items, but not using it to make orders. …

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