Immigration means change for 'mainstream' marketing

At a time when "change" is the media buzzword of choice, a report from the Pew Research Center sheds light on the staggering demographic shift projected for the US over the next several decades.

In the news:
At a time when "change" is the media buzzword of choice, a report from the Pew Research Center sheds light on the staggering demographic shift projected for the US over the next several decades. Assuming current immigration trends remain, the US population will reach 438 million in 2050 - with 82% of the growth coming from immigrants, the Pew Center reports.

To put those figures into context, in 2005 one out of eight Americans were immigrants, but by 2050 the ratio will be one in five. Of the 117 million expected new Americans, 67 million will be immigrants and 50 million will be their US-born children or grandchildren. Projections estimate that Hispanics will constitute 29% of the US population, according to the Pew Center.

Why does it matter?
The days when reaching out to Hispanic populations meant translating press releases and ad campaigns to Spanish are over. And the lack of diversity within the industry is going to make it harder for PR pros to do their job and reach relevant audiences.

"Really, let's understand [immigrants are] no longer a niche, a bubble, or a bucket you include in your marketing mix," says Ines Rodriguez Gutzmer, SVP/AD for Ketchum's brand marketing. "It's mainstream already."

Campaigns that target the Latino market should connect with the community's culture. Yet to do this effectively, marketers must grasp the differences between various Hispanic communities, and learn to reach out in ways that evoke emotional attention, Gutzmer advises.

"Media relations is easy and safe," she says. "But long-term loyalty comes from social marketing and educational programs."

Five facts:
1 Traditionally marketers consider high Hispanic markets to be New York, LA, Miami, Chicago, Houston, and Dallas. But increasingly, states like Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, and South Carolina are becoming critical outreach points.

2 Latinos are more likely to own portable MP3 players or handheld video-game devices than non-Hispanics, but the community tends to lag behind others in purchasing desktop and notebook computers, according to a 2007 Forrester report on Hispanic consumers and technology.

3 The Pew Center reports in 2050 the white population will increase more slowly than other racial and ethnic groups and will likely become 47% of the population by 2050. The Asian-American population is expected to double.

4 The immigration surge opens a new market for Latin American companies to promote products in the US for homesick immigrants and children interested in preserving the parent's cultural identity.

5 The nation's elderly population is also slated to more than double during the time period examined by the Pew Center.

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