Hispanics are Essential
Hispanics are essential for the well-being of the U.S. economy. This has been proven beyond a doubt by the coronavirus pandemic we are all living through.
The numbers speak for themselves. Hispanics are over-represented in several key front-line sectors that have kept the economy running during this pandemic:
- Health Care
- Food Service
- Food & Meat Packing
Unfortunately, this also means that the Hispanic community has paid a very high price for the services and help it provides. For example, in New Jersey Hispanics account for about 19% of the total population but represent over 30% of all Covid-19 cases. In Iowa, Hispanics account for more than 20% of all coronavirus cases but comprise only 6% of the population.
Like any essential workers, Latinos are highly exposed to the virus. Add to this the fact that Hispanics tend to live in multi-generational households – sometimes multi-family households – where space is at a premium. Social distancing at home is a luxury that few can afford. Given the high urbanization rate of the Hispanic community, there is no doubt they are in the eye of the perfect storm for a higher incidence of the contagion.
Tragically, the pandemic affects not only workers but entrepreneurs, as well. 86% of Latino small business owners report significant negative impact on their businesses caused by the coronavirus pandemic (Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, March 2020). However, if nothing else, the Latino population is resilient, communal and possesses an unparalleled work ethic.
What distinguishes Hispanic immigrants, and children of immigrants living among other Latinos, is the natural tendency not to isolate and retreat, but to persevere, adjust and to help others to do better. As one Latina coffee shop owner in Dallas describes it: “As Hispanics, our currency is a little more resilient and we’re more culturally open to dealing with crisis,” she said. “We keep the motor running until we can drive again.”
One of the key differences between Hispanics and non-Hispanic Americans is the concept of family; for Americans the family is the nuclear family (parents, children) and all are encouraged to be independent. For Hispanics, it is the extended family (multi-generational and may include friends and neighbors) where interdependence is fostered and valued. Hispanic orientation is not singularly focused on individual fulfillment, but in achieving group harmony, shared experiences and well-being.
This ethos helps to explain why Hispanics are not only essential workers but essential consumers with enormous purchasing power. A call to action targeting the Latino consumer reaches more than one unique consumer – it will likely reach an entire extended family who will partake in the experience of using your product or service.
Nowhere is this more evident than the health and wellness category: Hispanics tend to self-medicate, not necessarily due to financial lack of resources or of access, but rather through a combination of a tradition of privacy, resilience and an established history of using natural medicine. This in turn translates into an over-indexing among Hispanics of using preventative, nature-based ingestibles as part of their daily heath routines.
It’s probably too early to know the end result of this pandemic, but clearly marketers that establish and nurture positive Hispanic consumer relationships now, will certainly emerge in a stronger position. As resilient, as essential and as enduring as the engine that helps drive the growth of the American economy: U.S. Hispanic consumers.
Patricia Testa- Managing Partner – D2H Partners, LLC – 2020