It takes more than a tick in a box on a census form to define a person, but there's no doubt that the data from the 2010 US Census is going to throw up some extremely interesting and crucial information for marketers of all types – and especially PR and communications professionals.
This information will come as no surprise to those who attended the Hispanic PR and Social Media conference in Dallas this week. They are already well aware of the increasing scale of Hispanic audiences and are positioning their brands and agencies to take advantage of this.
Take Mike Fernandez and State Farm for example, who we will be featuring in-depth in June's print edition of PRWeek: the insurance firm is actively engaging diverse audiences to replace the waning business it will get over the next decade from the Baby Boomer generation.
But it's worth adding a note of caution to the rush to engage the Hispanic audience. For rather than one homogeneous mass, it contains several distinct groups, all with very different attitudes and consumption patterns. Cuban Americans are very different from Mexican Americans; then there are communities of Puerto Rican origin, or mainstream Spanish.
For example, Cuban Americans don't share the global tendency to see Che Guevara as an iconic, heroic figure. He is rather regarded as a traitor and murderer. I don't want to get into the whys and wherefores, but it just emphasizes the fact that a little specialist consultancy is required when trying to engage diverse audiences. Don't use Che imagery when targeting Cuban Americans.
The Census-takers have clearly cottoned on to this, as they are doing some in-depth follow-up surveys to the main data collection to try and drill down into the detail of the “Hispanic” label.
However, there is one plain fact that all communicators need to be aware of: Hispanic audiences are growing exponentially. They represent groups that all brands and corporations should be working out how to target. And it makes sound business sense to do so in terms of benefit to the bottom line. That's one box we should all consider ticking.