I remember the first time I visited New York how surprised I was to see that the half of the advertisements I saw were in Spanish. This summary from VIMN Insights describes this evolution:
When it comes to the U.S. population, the “mainstream” is shifting from white to multicultural. In 1980, the U.S. was 80% white/non-multicultural. By 2012, that proportion had decreased to 64%. And in the years to come, the multicultural, non-white population will account for larger and larger percentages of the population.
Multicultural America is becoming more Latino. Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asians represented just 20% of the population in 1980. By 2012, that percentage nearly doubled to 36%. Over that more than twenty year period, Hispanics have grown to represent a much larger proportion of the multicultural population. They were 32% of the multicultural segment in 1980 — and grew to 47% in 2012.
By 2050, there will be as many young Latinos in the U.S. as white non-Hispanics. Unlike waves of past immigrants, Hispanics will grow to be equal in size to the host population. In 1980, non-Hispanic whites were 74% of the under-18 population and Hispanics were 9%. By 2050, the two groups will be even, with both projected to represent 36% of the population under 18.
Already, Hispanics are the engine of growth for the 18-34 demographic. From 2015 to 2020, Hispanics 18-34 are projected to increase by over 1.8 million. Over that same period for that age group, non-Hispanic whites will decrease in size by nearly 1.3 million. Blacks and Asians will also grow – but on a much smaller scale (by 84,000 and 267,000, respectively).
The youth population is very Latino. Today, Hispanics represent more than 1 in 5 people under 35. And that proportion rises when it comes to the very young: Latinos account for almost 1 in 4 births in the U.S.
Growth fueled by the second generation. Hispanic population increases are expected to come from immigration and births in the US — but the majority will come from US births. The Census projects that from 2012 to 2050, the US-born Hispanic population will increase at 5 times the rate of foreign-born Hispanics. And while today the US-born group is about 65% larger than foreign-born, in 2050 there will be nearly 4 times more US-born Hispanics than foreign-born.
The second generation is already taking over the 18-34 demographic – and the pace is only going to pick up. Hispanics 18-24 skew heavily US-born, while more than half of 25-29s and 30-34s are foreign-born. By 2020, 85% of 18-24s and 61% of 25-29s will be US-born (and 30-34s will still be more foreign-born (55%).
A mega wave of second-generation Latinos is heading into the key advertiser demos. More than 90% of Hispanic kids under 11 were born in the US – and 6 million of them are second generation. As they get older, they will shape the market in new ways. Every year, nearly 550,000 second-generation Latinos are entering the teen demographic.
A rising second generation doesn’t mean Spanish is dead. Second generation Hispanics do speak English at work and with friends, but they’re not giving up Spanish. At home, 7 out of 10 Hispanics 18-34 speak Spanish at least half the time.
Acculturation doesn’t mean losing their “Latinicity.” Hispanic young adults are really proud of their heritage and cultural values – and they feel no need to give them up. Instead, they’re taking cultural fluency from other groups and mixing what they like into their lives.
They’re embracing — and becoming — mainstream America. Hispanic Millennials are participating in mainstream American culture the same way their non-Hispanic peers do — eating cheeseburgers, Instagramming photos, listening to Justin Timberlake, and watching The Walking Dead. And with trendy taco trucks, J.Lo judging on American Idol, Bruno Mars on the radio, and Mario Lopez delivering the day’s gossip, Latinos and Latino culture are becoming more and more mainstream.
Spanish is their main language at home (even though they may be speaking English with friends, at school, or at work). A majority of Hispanics 18-34 speak mostly Spanish at home. Not surprisingly, this is most common among those who are foreign-born (9 out of 10 speak mostly Spanish at home). But most second generation Hispanics 18-34 do as well (67%).
Their digital world is mobile, social, and most often in English. Latinos are significantly more likely than non-Hispanic whites to access the internet via a mobile device (76% of Latinos, 60% of non-Hispanic whites). They’re also slightly more likely than non-Hispanic whites to use social networking sites (68% of Hispanic, 66% of non-Hispanic whites). And when it comes to all things digital, English is Hispanics’ language of choice. On social media, 6 in 10 communicate primarily in English. They are also nearly 5 times more likely to have visited a website in English than in Spanish in the last week.
Sources for “The Latinization of America … A ‘Next Normal’ Exploration”: Tr3s Hispanic Adult Millennial Study (2012, 2013 & 2014); Simmons (2011-2013); Pew Hispanic Center (2011/2012); U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey & Synovate Population Data (1980-2012); Nat’l Vital Statistics Reports (2011); Nielsen 2014 Population Data + NTIH Audience Data; Tr3s “Cooltura” Panel (2007-2013)