The Latino Woman, a New Domestic Power Broker
Already the largest ethnic group in the Inland Empire, comprising 43% of the population in 2005, Latinos are projected to become the majority ethnic group in the region by 2015, representing 51% of the population. Latino women, with their increasing numeric and economic power, have become a marketer’s dream. However, the evolving nature of today’s Latina, who often rebels against the stereotypes that have been assigned her, proves to be a challenge when it comes to developing appropriate marketing messages.
Latinas today are a different group of women, a younger and diverse group, coming from all different levels of acculturation. The median age of Latino women is 26.7 years old, compared to 37.4 for the total female population. Seventy percent of Latinas are under 40, and over one-third of them are younger than 25. Most of these Latinas have been born and raised in the U.S., and they are better educated and have stronger economic power. Because of all these factors, they are more acculturated than previous generations. Latinas today have a set of values which has been modeled by merging the best of what they have observed in both Hispanic and American cultures.
Young Latinas still have a strong focus on their family and are getting married and having children at a younger age than their non-Hispanic counterparts do. However, today more Hispanic women are choosing to balance the achievement of their own dreams with providing the best quality of life to their family. Consequently, they are defying the social pressures that shaped the Hispanic tradition of big families and planning on smaller families. In the past 10 years, the fertility rates for Latinas dropped to 2.7 children in 2002 from 2.9 in the early 90’s.
Leaving the stereotype of the devoted stay-at-home wife who cooks, cleans the house and watches telenovelas all day, young Latinas are moving forward and achieving professional success. Today Hispanic women are more likely than Hispanic men to have a college degree and work in professional or managerial positions. In addition, the number of Latina-owned businesses has increased to over half a million, representing 39% of all minority women-owned businesses in the United States.
Finally getting beyond the image of the hot and sexy Chiquita Banana, Latinas are also becoming an influential force on the style and fashion front. Their unique look, charged with color, embroidery and jewelry that showcase their heritage, with a particular style, is infiltrating mainstream culture fashion trends. Led by top designers like Narciso Rodriquez, who dresses Hollywood stars, and pop stars like J. Lo, Daisy Fuentes and Thalia who have launched their fashion collections in mainstream retailers Macy’s, K-Mart and Kohl’s, Latina-influenced fashions are becoming a part of most American women’s wardrobes.
Despite the fact that most Latina women today are as busy, successful, and influential as ever, many marketers are still pretending to communicate with them using outdated messages that are merely straight translations of general market campaigns or tailored messages based on stereotypes of the old-style Latino women. Whatever the case, none of these strategies can connect effectively with this booming group of women.
To really appeal to young Latinas, marketing campaigns and messages should do away with old clichés and stereotypes and start to reflect the reality of Young Latinas. What’s a good way to start talking to them? By highlighting their successes and accomplishments. By addressing their concerns and offering solutions that make their lives easier – while allowing them to keep their culture and traditions. And, most importantly, by crediting them with a sense of style that is attractive to these image-conscious women.
Adelante y arriba, onward and upward!
Lynn Diamantopoulos is President/CEO of Athena Research Group, Inc., a market research firm based in Riverside. She serves on the board of the American Marketing Association – Inland Empire. She can be reached at 951-369-0800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.