The Value Of The Spanish Speaking Consumer

By Nick Reynolds

As our country faces the future looking toward a changed identity, statistical evidence suggests one interesting point of cultural diffusion; the Spanish language and the cultures of its speakers are quickly permeating into the mainstream consciousness of American Culture. Since 1980, the proportion of Spanish speakers in the U.S. has grown by 233 percent, equaling a language base of more than 37 million speakers across the continental United States. In the next five years, that number is expected to rise by as much as six million people.

This portion of the population — more than 12 percent fluent and six percent capable according to the U.S. Census Bureau — hints at a crowd of persons that can have a good degree of influence on American culture. Since a majority of these persons likely came from nearby Hispanic cultures, we can assume a good proportion of cultural influences making their way into American culture will likely be those coming from south of the border.

But think of this: In today’s increasingly consumer-driven world, how will the marketing to this growing demographic — those of Hispanic descent and culture — change over time? After all, it has been shown in Nielsen ratings television programming on networks like Univision typically fare better than their English speaking counterparts, suggesting a greater value to advertisers on programming such as this. This is a major loss for the traditional stalwarts of NBC, CBS and ABC, especially as a growing number of Latino viewers defecting to Univision and Spanish language-oriented networks, something Univision host Raúl De Molina (an Emmy winner) suggested could be due to the lack of Latino representation on these shows.

So what does this mean as the population of Spanish speakers in America grows? Simply, the networks need to do a much better job of increasing Latin presences on its programming. The demographic they’re currently alienating is only going to grow, and in the time they waste not incorporating these characters and themes into their shows, the more established Univision is going to become among the population looking for that content. It could have a big payoff, especially considering in 2015, the buying power of U.S. Hispanics is expected to reach upwards of $1.5 trillion.

Through television, population trends and consumer demand will eventually begin to emulate society at its most valuable demographic. While it mirrors what we see in real life, it also amplifies it, putting out societal interpretations and portraying them as an ideal of American life. As networks begin to realize the value of the Spanish speaking consumer, television may soon be the motivating factor in aspects of Hispanic culture finding a greater role in our society.

Diffusion is a good thing. The next move is yours to make, networks.

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