By Ozzie Godinez (PacoCommunications.com)
Today, many young Hispanics are choosing to maintain family traditions and blend them with mainstream American culture, rather than fully assimilating. In the past, Hispanic youth usually acculturated into American culture (which means cutting ties with their ancestral traditions), but today a new trend is occurring. U.S-born Hispanics are going through a reversal in acculturation in which they are rediscovering their family’s heritage. They may show an appreciation for cooking like grandma does, start listening to a variation of music genres in Spanish, or even hone their fluency in Spanish. This is known as retro-acculturation, and it is creating significant shifts for marketers.
Before we dive into it, let’s get a better picture of what each of these terms mean. Assimilation refers to the adaptation of the new culture one is exposed in their new surroundings and the renunciation of one’s original culture. On the other hand,acculturation refers to picking up certain traits from a new culture while maintaining some traits from the native culture. Then there’s retro-acculturation. Retro-acculturationhappens when a person who has already been assimilated or has a high level of acculturation begins to “miss” the culture he/she was originally raised in and wants to recover it. It’s also referred to as the re-discovery of a person’s roots.
In the past, retro-acculturation occurred among Hispanics of second, third or fourth-generation who assimilated into American culture but wanted to go back and grasp their cultural identity once more. Today, retro-acculturation is taking place as early as 11 years of age and often within first generation Hispanics. As they go through their self-discovery phase, whether in their teenage years or as young adults, young Hispanics begin to realize the growing influence they, as an ethnic group, have in the U.S. Take into account the great amount of diversity that begins to surround them in school or college and suddenly, being part of an ethnic group becomes “in.” The “George” you used to know may start to introduce himself as “Jorge.”
This re-awakening of their culture drives Hispanic youth to look for and engage in activities that will bring a sense of connection with their traditions. Out of the 50+ million Hispanics in the U.S., 62% of those are between 14-34 years old. Over one third identify themselves as both Hispanic and American and as the older half of this group begins to have their own children, retro-acculturation will become something marketers cannot afford to oversee. Whether it’s learning to become more fluent in Spanish, add more Latin music onto their iPods, cooking ethnic dishes with the family, Hispanic youth are looking for authentic Latino experiences.
So what does this mean for marketers? Hispanics will become more aware of the culturally authentic experiences and connections that brands targeting them will offer. Brands that have been culturally established in their country of origin may see a boost of consumption in the U.S., where as those mainstream American brands that have their version or line of Latino products may no longer be viewed as real. Instead of purchasing shelf-brand salsas, they may be turning to salsas made fresh by the local deli at a Hispanic grocery store or prefer making it themselves at home. This sort of preference can pose a major threat to many brands. Though some brands may be targeting their version of Latino products to the general market and not Hispanics necessarily, it’s projected Hispanics will be fueling the growth of the U.S. population, thus becoming more of the general market and bring a completely new change. They will be looking for products that will help them celebrate and rediscover their heritage.
Categories: NGLC Conference