A Rising Superpower

A Rising Superpower: Latinx Gen Z

by Julie Cid & Adaobi Ugoagu

Generation Z. We’re all acquainted with the fast facts about them: They are currently 27% of the U.S. population. This year, more than 23 million of them are eligible to vote. And most notably, they are the most diverse generation in U.S. history, with 22% of young adults/teens being of Latinx origin. Surprisingly enough, despite them being the second largest ethnic cohort, there is very little written about them. However, we can take assurance in the fact that they will be growing in societal, political, and financial power over the next few years, so it’s important to lean in and understand this group and the implications of their worldviews and behaviors as marketers.

Who Are They?

Unlike their Millennial parents, 91% of Latinx Gen Z-ers were born in the U.S. and are more likely to tune in and consume English-speaking digital media. Despite this fact, they still place a high value on their ethnic background, their community and preserving their cultural roots. 79% of Gen Z parents cite that they believe it’s important to teach their future children how to speak Spanish. The mix between Latinx being American-born while also placing an emphasis on their culture is a defining trait of the generation—one that the marketing industry has taken note of.

Natural Disruptors

Historically, the marketing industry previously separated their mainstream marketing initiatives from multicultural specific marketing plans. In the last few years, we have begun to witness the two lanes begin to merge and that is all thanks to the increasing purchasing power of Latinx Gen Z. This year alone, we have seen major brand collaborations where Latinx influencers and celebs are the faces of major brands and events (lets all take a moment to remember the phenomenality of JLo and Shakira at the Superbowl 🙏). Right at the end of September, crocs launched a partnership with Bad Bunny where his glow-in-the-dark crocs—right on time for Halloween—went on sale and was sold out within minutes. Rosalía, a Spanish native and singer-songwriter was given airtime to perform at the Savage x Fenty show during Fashion Week. And earlier in October, right off the heels of another major partnership, McDonald’s announced that their next partnership would be with J Balvin.

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The J Balvin Meal McDonalds LATINO GANG

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It’s no coincidence that the sudden spike in Latinx representation in marketing campaigns seamlessly aligns with the large number of young Latinx’ers who are consuming more and more branded media on social media. Latinx-ers are no longer seen as foreign-born, they are Americans and consume American content while also keeping their strong ties to ethnic identity, and brands that haven’t caught up are quickly being siloed into irrelevancy. Latinx Gen Z’s mere presence has managed to disrupt and bring about a long-needed change in the approach to diverse marketing.

Out with the Old!

We know Latinx Gen Z-ers have cultural influence, but nothing speaks more poignantly than their financial influence. In a study by Neilsen regarding this powerful group, the buying power of the Latinx population in the U.S. is on track to top $1.9 trillion by 2023. Nielsen also cites that “the fastest growth in Hispanic spending is happening in Washington and North Dakota and are mostly driven by youth.” So the next question is, how can we effectively reach them? Multicultural marketing is undergoing a shift and it's helpful to point out those transitions and champion these recent partnerships as examples we can use as points of reference/inspo. In a MediaPost article they outline two major strategies that need to change.

First, they call out that because this younger generation are English-speakers, the focus from utilizing Spanish as a marketing tactic should shift to cultural ones. For example, Bad Bunny noted that his collaboration with Crocs was driven by his belief “in being true and not placing limitations” on himself, which he also believes the brand embodies. Culturally, this falls in line with broader studies found that Gen Z-ers value self expression, so in combination with Bad Bunny being an incredibly relevant artist, Crocs aligning themselves with a gender-fluid Latinx musician was a match made in heaven.

Second, we know that they are digital natives. They are 66% more likely to connect via mobile than Latinx Millennials and are twice as likely to own a tablet. Therefore, the tradition of reaching this demographic through Spanish-speaking television (e.g. Telemundo, Univision) has to shift. According to Nielsen, are a plethora of web and social media content platforms that authentically connect Gen Z, both English speakers and bilingual, allowing them to discover new ways of expressing their identity and cultural fluidity.

A good example is We are Mitú, a news and media company with a focus on entertainment and culture with over 4 million followers on Facebook.

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What we’re seeing is exciting; the U.S. Latinx community is more empowered than ever. They are a growing and evolving demographic driving the future of digital market trends. Their influence in the U.S. general market and mainstream is gaining momentum. That’s why it’s crucial for all brands to think about how they can authentically partner with and amplify their voice.