A few months back I used Linkedin.com to conduct an informal poll to gain insight into cultural identity within the US Hispanic population segment. Aside for having a very dynamic and proactive membership base, Linkedin.com contains several Hispanic and Latino groups who exhibit an extraordinary commitment to the community by devoting time for the exchange of ideas and the discussion of issues that affect the political and economic development in our community.
The main objective of the poll was to search for an inclusive term that would transcend the complex racial, cultural and religious background of American citizens who trace their origins back to Latin America. We asked which of the following terms do you identify with? A) Latino B) Hispanic C) American Latino D) American Hispanic.
The results were quite fascinating. There were 412 comments spread across four Linkedin.com groups from 183 respondents at the time I tabulated the responses. Over 40% of respondents did not check a specific choice. But rather went on elaborating about their parent’s country of origin which included Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, Peru, and Dominican Republic and so on. Only 59% of respondents checked at least one of the choices as follows:
A) Latino 53 or 28%
B) American Latino 8 or 4%
C) Hispanic 40 or 21%
D) American Hispanic 11 or 6%
E) N/A* – 72 or 41%
*Among the N/A category, approximately 3% ignored all four choices and wrote “American” and approximately 50% chose Hispanic and Latino rather than pairing Hispanic or Latino with the American hyphen.
Engagement with respondents was insightful and inspiring. The poll led me to confirm the magnitude of Hispanic diversity and it was quite indicative of developing attitudinal trends within the US Hispanic and Latino community as it also led me to question the level of fragmentation within the community.
Geographic proximity: global empowerment of news and information; ease of transporation; and US – Latin American political and economic ties will continue to fuel Hispanic and Latino heritage and customs retention in the US. According to this poll, younger US born and acculturated respondents seem to cling to the pluralized concept behind the American terms Hispanic and Latino, rather than using as subgroup (i.e, Mexican, Cuban, etc). It also appears that the Spanish language may no longer serve as a “unique” identifier, especially among those born in the US after 1985. This is especially challenging for marketers, as more and more English language vehicles targeting the Hispanic and Latino market emerge.