The United States is what it is because of immigration. At the turn of the twentieth century 35.5% of US population was either first or second generation according to Pew Hispanic research recently released[i]. As of 2015 this number is 25.8%, driven by first generation immigrants at 13.9% which has been consistently increasing since the 1960s.
Each new piece of research adds to the evidence that businesses will find it harder to grow their top-line without addressing the foreign born population in the US. Of the 320 million people in the US in 2015, 44 million of them are first generation and a further 38 million are second generation. To put this in context, the population of first and second generation in the US is more than 130% greater than the total population in Canada.
The power of the immigrant consumers is not just from population size but also of economic value. Of the non-US born population approximately 52% are of Mexican or Latin American originsi. In California, foreign born Hispanics alone accounted for 10.5% of consumer spending in 2013 as reported by the Partnership for a New American Economy[ii]. Nationally, looking at the total Hispanic segment (US & Non-US born) we see $2 trillion in consumer purchasing power[iii]. The timing of this increase in population size and spending power comes at just the right moment as one of the staple go to consumer segments begins to retire, literally.
For decades companies have relied on the Baby Boomer generation to provide sales volume and growth. Now as the youngest of this generation entered their 50’s and the oldest enter their 70’s, the economic future of this segment is on the decline. Even as Baby Boomers remain in the workforce, their mindsets move to saving for retirement. In contrast the primary age of the immigrant population is between 30-49 yearsi.
Not only are today’s immigrants at the prime age for major life events such as, buying property, cars, getting married and having children but they are also more educated than ever before. Today 16.4% have a bachelor’s and 11.9% have a post-grad degree1. The combination means this group is looking forward to increased earnings as their careers develop, which leads to increased spending.
Marketers can make the most of the Immigrant Boomer population. Four key principles to keep in mind are:
- Let evidence drive strategy: Run the numbers and know the consumer insights. This will help identify not just who to target, but also what the message needs to be.
- Do more than reach them, make a connection: Connecting in a meaningful way is more than language although this can be a factor as only 16% of the Non-US born segment speak only English at home. Culture is key to relevance. Take the time to “embrace the similarities and celebrate differences”.
- Don’t rush it. Remember this maybe the first time your brand is engaging the consumer. Think of it as a first date; take the time to get to know each other.
- Track and measure appropriately: This is a subset of the US population. Ensure your data and analysis account for this. Be careful not to let positive results get drown out by analysis at the total market level.
When the landscape is changing, marketers have three options; (a) resist the change and fight to hold onto the market place of yesterday (b) ignore it and let everyone else go ahead (c) make adjustments and get ahead of the curve. Not a difficult set of choices to pick from, but if you are still in doubt always go with “C”.
Eric Talbot is with Epiphany Insights, a marketing analytics consultancy helping companies increase sales and profitability by advancing the use of data and insights via evidence-based decision making. Prior to Epiphany Insights, he was VP of Strategy & Insights with Univision and is a healthcare industry veteran with nearly 20 years of consulting experience.
[i] PEW Research Statistical Portrait of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States, 1960 – 2013
[ii] The Partnership for a New American Economy’s new report, “The Power of the Purse: The Contributions of Hispanics to America’s Spending Power and Tax Revenues in 2013,”
[iii] American Immigration Counsel January 2015