The 2010 U.S. Census continues to be a goldmine of data as the AP revealed recently in recognizing that Hispanics now outnumber African-Americans in most U.S. cities. This news was gathered from a March Creport by the U.S. Census Bureau, Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin [pdf]. Soincidently, as I was planning this post about reaching the Hispanic demographic, Billboard ramped up coverage in advance of its Latin Music Conference & Awards, But it's important that the music industry takes a deeper look.
But reaching Hispanic audiences in the U.S. is quite a different matter than breaking Latino artists in the U.S. and it's also different than reaching African-Americans though such efforts are often lumped together in so-called "multicultural" marketing budgets and campaigns. Latinos have a much more varied identity in the U.S. related to country-of-origin and language use which is heightened due to the impact of recent immigration.
For example, a report released last year noted the difference in top radio format listening between "English dominant and U.S.-born Hispanics" vs. "Spanish dominant Hispanics and those not born in the U.S." So knowing who you're reaching in Latino markets requires a great deal of differentiation especially given the fact that all traditional demographic groupings are becoming increasingly inadequate in explaining consumer behavior.
A strong argument exists for moving away from such demographic approaches and towards what Sensis founder and president, Jose Villa, describes as "Hispanic Personas", focusing on "digital behavior and mindset". This perspective is one to which I shall return at a later date since I am increasingly influenced by Saul J. Berman's quite convincing discussion of behavioral segmentation in Not For Free: Revenue Strategies for a New World. I believe such a perspective will be most successful and will help move us away from the focus on markets organized by color at a time when music consumers are interested in genres that don't align with rigid racial, ethnic or national identities.
That said, Villa does discuss more general findings related to Hispanic consumers, for example, he and many others are finding that U.S. Hispanics are big on social media and deeply engaged with mobile devices. Folks are moving from Hi5 and MySpace to Facebook and everybody's interested in moving up to smartphones. In fact, Lee Vann gathers multiple studies to reveal that U.S. Hispanics already have a higher percentage of smartphones than any other ethnic/racial group. They are also more likely to use mobile devices to download or listen to music and to participate in social networks.
Such news should be welcome to forward thinking marketers who are already focused on social networks and mobile users. Additional good news comes via the Terra Ad Value Study. Fernando Rodriguez discussed this study from late 2010 revealing that "Hispanics are more receptive to online advertising than non-Hispanics" and "Hispanics outspend non-Hispanics in E-Commerce Transactions".
Surprisingly, PR professionals recognize the need to reach Hispanics via social media but are using it much less to reach Hispanics than so-called "mainstream markets", according to a recent survey conducted by TeleNoticias and LatinoWire. I don't know how that breaks down for music-related efforts but I do recognize an opportunity when I see one. If marketing efforts by one's competition do not reflect the responsiveness of a particular audience, that's the perfect time to focus one's efforts and grab market share.
Given the above findings along with currently increasing marketing budgets, it's definitely time for music marketers to examine their approaches to Hispanic markets and adjust accordingly. With the growing emphasis on social media and mobile marketing, those in the process of increasing their skills in such areas should be more able to reach Hispanic markets than those focused on traditional marketing tools.