Capitalizing on the rise of the Hispanic market

Within the past 20 years, statistics have shown the dramatic increase in the Hispanic population and its significant influence and purchasing power on a number of fronts.

Within the past 20 years, statistics have shown the dramatic increase in the Hispanic population and its significant influence and purchasing power on a number of fronts. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded Hispanic Heritage Week to Hispanic Heritage Month to celebrate the independence of seven Latin American countries. At the time, the Hispanic market made up 8.1% of the U.S. population. Today, that number has almost doubled to 15.5%, according to the US Census.

The 22nd anniversary of Hispanic Heritage Month is just behind us and the soon-to-be released 2010 US Census data is expected to again show enormous growth in this demographic. This continued expansion is cause to reflect on how Hispanic consumers can impact your bottom line.

In 1990, the Hispanic purchasing power was $212 billion. A decade later, it more than doubled to $490 billion. Today, Hispanic purchasing power accounts for more than $1 trillion, a 513% increase over a 20-year period, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth: The Multicultural Economy 2005.

If company executives wait until the 2010 Census data is released before they develop strategic plans targeting this valuable segment, they will be at a severe disadvantage to companies that have already engaged with this market.

A decade ago, leading brands like Coca-Cola, McDonald's, and Procter & Gamble saw the writing on the wall about the importance of the Hispanic consumer and allocated significant resources to market to this audience. As a result, companies such as these have gained and retained a loyal Hispanic following. 

Here are five things you can do right now to capitalize on this growing segment:

• Know your target audience and their needs

• Engage professionals and subject-matter experts who can speak to the Hispanic market

• Build a comprehensive strategic plan designed to include the Hispanic market by creating programs that connect with the target audience's passion points

• Stay the course. Once you choose to engage with the Hispanic market, don't relent. You must be consistent in your integrated communications efforts.

Lori George Billingsley is group director, community connections for Coca-Cola Refreshments. She can be reached at lbillingsley@na.ko.com.

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