AHAA’s Position on…
POV on the Economics of Integration
The Dollars and “Sense” of the Immigration Debate
The Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies felt compelled to enter the immigration debate for one very simple reason: we’ve been helping our clients recognize for years what the US just noticed on May 1st… immigrants are powerful consumers and Hispanic consumers are the population from which we, as Hispanic advertising agencies, emanate and which we serve. While some are arguing over immigrant tax contributions, the impact of immigration on social services in the US and the labor market, the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies believes there has been too much heat and not enough light shed on the issue of immigrant spending.
Fueled by the quest for opportunity, hope for the future, and pursuit of the American dream, Hispanic buying power will grow from its 1990 level of $212 billion to $1.1 trillion in 2010. That’s the kind of number that makes every corporation in America take notice, and should open some eyes in Washington. Those figures – while the most accurate estimate we can project based on US census data - reflect spending among the entire US Hispanic population of approximately 41 million consumers; however, those 41 million consumers counted by the Census Bureau include only one-fourth of the approximately 9 to 10 million undocumented Latinos in the US – and the uncounted are also consumers of American goods and services.
That’s about 6 to 7 million invisible consumers - that’s a lot of diapers, a lot of cars, a lot of food... and frankly a lot of dollars that can be attributed to the immigrant population.
Consumer spending has been fueling economic growth in America and it’s been powered by the immigrant dollars that are earned and spent in the US each year.
- In 2010, that trillion dollars in Hispanic spending will account for 9.2 percent of all U.S. buying power, up from 5 percent in 1990.
- Hispanics’ spending patterns already help to determine the success or failure of many American products and services and this will become even more significant over time due to the Hispanic population’s youth.
- In fact Hispanic families outspend non-Hispanic families in several industries – food, apparel, health and beauty, baby products, digital cameras, long distance phone and pre-paid wireless -- and those companies which are investing in marketing to this community are realizing gains in market share, net profits and shareholder value.
- Between 1990 and 2005, the share of buying power controlled by Hispanic consumers rose in every state.
Hispanic consumers are our livelihood. Immigrants are not just the uneducated, poverty-stricken Mexicans you see running across the border – they are significant consumers of US goods and services. They are not only our housekeepers and cooks and gardeners and child-care workers… they are also our customers.
As an industry, we spend a lot of time and money exploring exactly how Hispanic individuals and families, citizens and non-citizens, documented and undocumented…think and behave. And we believe that all sides of the immigration debate should do the same. Hispanics embody a hard work ethic; familial responsibility; religious faith; pride; appreciation; and a sincere desire to learn and better themselves.
All these make Hispanics ideal consumers and ideal Americans. They are open to messages and are extremely brand loyal. Legislators and our fellow Americans cannot ignore the influence of immigrants…as consumers… particularly Hispanics -- both documented and undocumented, on corporate America’s bottom line and on the U.S. economy.
The explosive growth in Hispanic-owned businesses is also a potent economic force.
In fact, most of AHAA’s member agencies are Hispanic-owned and operated. A U.S. Department of Commerce report showed that the number of Hispanic firms is growing more than four times faster than the number of all U.S. firms, and that their receipts also rose more quickly than those of all firms. Hispanics are contributing to the US economy as consumers and as entrepreneurs.
Further reform will require a nuanced, collective approach to the issue based on facts and the best interest of America – including corporate America and each of our wallets. Emerging from the debates and appearing in the final legislation was the declaration of English as the “dominant” language.
AHAA brings a unique perspective to the discussion of English vs. Spanish as we battle that fight within our own industry. First, we agree, English should be the official language in America and most immigrants are aware that English is their ticket to success in the US. But today’s Hispanics move between both languages with ease and most recent immigrants strive to achieve that flexibility.
We don’t buy into the notion that Latinos can be reached in either English OR Spanish…rather AHAA’s position is English AND Spanish. We define our market by more than simply language. Our language is that of consumers and business building for our clients…we want to deliver returns on their 5 billion dollar investment.
AHAA member agencies rely on their marketing expertise to determine the best way to reach consumers and create a lasting connection with them. While efforts to mandate one language over another won’t really affect our industry, we believe it may create confusion at best, and division at worst among all Americans.
1The multicultural economy 2005 Jeffrey M. Humphreys America’s minority buying power