21 February 2019

Conducting research in the USA, don’t forget Hispanics!

The population of Spanish speakers in the United States has become more than that of Spain, according to US census bureau data published in 2017. The total number of Spanish speakers in the United States is larger than most than Spanish-speaking nations and is second to Mexico. 58.6 million is 18% of the US total population of 325.7 This is far in excess of the next biggest ethnic group, Asians, which represent 18.1 million and only 5.5% of the population.

The USA’s Hispanic population remains concentrated in three states that traditionally have high Hispanic populations. California (15.3 million), Texas (10.9 million) and Florida (5.1 million) made up 54% of the U.S. Hispanic population in 2016 (state population data are not available for 2017). Fastest growing Hispanic population isn’t in these states though it’s in Georgia.

Hispanics of Mexican origin accounted for 63.3%  of the nation’s Hispanic population in 2015, by far the largest share of any origin group, but down from a high point of 65.7 in 2008. This share has declined in recent years as less Mexicans arrive in the USA and the number leaving the country rises. Meanwhile, the share amongst other Hispanics (36.7% in 2015, up from 34.3% in 2008) has grown as migration from elsewhere in Latin America has increased. It is a bit early to see how the Trump presidency will affect this data but it is to be expected that the Mexican share will further decline.

This large Hispanic population has far reaching impacts in day to day life. Its quite common for signs in shops to be bilingual in areas with high Spanish speaking populations. It’s also advantageous for public servants like police officers if they are bilingual and they get paid more if they are. This is, for example, known as the bilingual pay differential in California.

This situation should be taken in context though. The percentage of Spanish speakers is unlikely to rise significantly. If one looks only at immigration patterns over the past half-century, it is true that the U.S. has been gaining Spanish-speakers. However this is only half the picture. While new immigrants use mainly Spanish, their dependants typically become bilinguals who mainly use English As a result, the same immigrants’ grandchildren likely speak English as their first language.

This is known as the three generations phenomenon by linguistic specialists. It means that non-English languages in the U.S. are lost by or during the third generation as has already happened to say German and Italian in the last century.

What effect does the Hispanic population have on market research methodology? Clearly such a large population can have different tastes to the US population as a whole. A result of this is that it is quite common to have ethnic quotas in studies that cover the USA, in a similar way as in Canada there is often a French speaking quota.

We at Opinions Research can help. As a company that does research and not just fieldwork we profile ethnically not just Hispanics but people of Asian origin to, We can further sub divide into country of origin and three levels of cultural assimilation. Fully acculturated, bi-acculturated and unacculturated. Because we own and operate mall based facilities in 30 locations across the USA and regularly update our respondent databases we can target the right kind of respondents. Indeed if a product is aimed or likely to appeal to US Hispanics we can target centres in the areas Hispanics are most frequently found. In those areas we can offer bilingual staff to. You can send any bids or questions to bids@opinionsltd.com and cc me jonathan.sheldrake@opinionsltd.com

Want to know more? Visit Opinions LTD at stand AV13, during the show. 

 

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