Hispanics are the single fastest growing group of minority consumers in the U.S. today, making them an increasingly important focus for food and beverage producers and retailers who are looking for an edge in a hyper-competitive market. In this article, we’ll take a look at the factors behind the growth of the U.S. Hispanic market, as well as its current and anticipated geographic distribution. We’ll also spend some time discussing the effects of age, acculturation, and other factors that lend variety to a group that can sometimes seem monolithic to those acquainted with it only at a basic level. With those factors in mind, plus some cultural influences common to most Hispanics, we’ll then examine the effects of recent economic events on this burgeoning food and beverage consumer market.
Currently about a third of the U.S. population is classified as minorities. Among this group of more than 100 million individuals, Hispanics are a clear majority. And the group is growing fast: expected to reach 61 million individuals by 2018, or 18.6% of the US population, making it the fastest growing minority in the country. In fact, the population is growing so rapidly that by 2060, an estimated 129 million Hispanics will live in the U.S., comprising 31% of the population.
Though some of that sharp growth in population will be due to immigration, the lion’s share of tomorrow’s Hispanics will be born in the U.S. As a result, these Hispanics will be just as likely to relate to American culture as they do to their own rich heritage, an important fact to remember when developing products with maximum appeal for this group, as well
as when designing product packaging and developing marketing, messaging and advertising campaigns.
Hispanic Distribution by Region
The distribution of Hispanic subgroups throughout the U.S. is far from uniform. Hispanics of Mexican origin, for instance, tend to be concentrated in the southern and western portions of the country. But as the population of Mexican Americans has grown, they have become better represented in places like the East Coast and in small towns in every state. East Coast Hispanic populations are currently comprised mainly of individuals of Dominican and Puerto Rican origin. Although as mentioned previously, that balance is changing, a trend that will only accelerate in the years to come.
In the southern part of the U.S., Hispanics of Cuban origin predominate, though Hispanics of Central American origin are rapidly rising in traditionally Cuban strongholds such as Miami, Florida. Central American Hispanics are also increasingly choosing other major population centers such as Los Angeles, California. According to August 2012 Census data, more than one million Hispanics reside in each of eight states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Texas. Still, that’s only a fraction of the total number of American Hispanics.
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