Spanish, The Divine Language

The latest research suggests that even though more Hispanics than ever before are getting their news in English, use of the Spanish language is hardly on the decline: According to the Pew Research Center, a record 37.6 million persons aged five and up speak Spanish in the home. In fact, Spanish is the most spoken non-English language in the U.S.—including in 2.8 million non-Hispanic households!

So, why is it that more Latinos are getting their news fix in English?

A variety of factors could be contributing to this: A growing number of Latinos who “speak English well”; a slow-down in the immigration rate to the U.S.; a rise in the average number of years an adult Latino immigrant has lived in the U.S.; more Latinos having been born in the U.S. Annually, about 800,000 U.S.-born Latinos enter adulthood. Many are the children of immigrants and a significant share are third or higher generation. These groups are much more English-proficient than their immigrant relatives.

Also, “upscale Latinos” (a term coined by the Nielsen report) are the new baby boomers and they’re educated and well informed—living in a world of cultural duality, consuming media in both English and Spanish, and utilizing an average of four sources for information (TV, radio, print publications and online content) to get their news. According to a recent Nielsen report, these Hispanic households earn $50K-$100K and account for 37% of U.S.-residing Latinos’ total spending.

With all this data in mind, should you still consider advertising in Spanish?

The Nielsen report adds that “deeper pockets don’t translate to increased assimilation. Upscale Hispanics live in two cultures, as three-quarters speak both English and Spanish. While upscale Hispanics are slightly more English-dominant, their strong cultural duality and bicultural behaviour is reflected in their media consumption. More than a third of upscale Hispanics watch content in both languages. English-language comedies, documentary-style programming and children’s weekly programming are the most watched. However, upscale Latinos switch to Spanish-language television for cultural events, concerts and sports.”

I’ve also known Latinos to like their music in Spanish. And shows like “El Vacilón De La Mañana” on La Mega 97.9 in New York and the “DJ Laz Morning Show” on Latino 96.3 in L.A. have helped a medium that has struggled to maintain their general-market audience to ultimately thrive and become the #1 stations in N.Y. and L.A!

Perhaps the reason Spanish as a language in this country is not losing ground, despite a growing number of Latinos consuming media in English, is best summarized in the rumored words of Charles V, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire (also known as Carlos I—the name he used while King of Spain): "Hablo en Italiano con los embajadores; en Francés, con las mujeres; en Alemán con los soldados y en Inglés con los caballos. Pero con Dios, con Dios hablo en Español.” Which roughly translates to, “I speak Italian with the ambassadors; French with women; German with soldiers and English with the horses. But with God, with God, I speak in Spanish.”

So, if you want to make an impact on this highly adaptable demographic, who is steadily helping shape the landscape of America’s economy, perhaps you should consider adding a bit of divine language to your general market efforts. That’s what Charles V would suggest, anyway.

Juan AcevesComment