March 10, 2006

mun2 Latino Youth-only National Study

mun2 revealed the findings of the first major Latino youth-only national study. Top-line findings were presented at the Nokia Theatre in New York City at a research forum entitled me2: Understanding the Young Latino in America, a ground-breaking look at the values that drive the highly-coveted 14-34 year-old Latino demographic.

The three-part study, commissioned by mun2, was conceived in response to the burgeoning demographic consisting of second generation Latinos. According to census data, this segment, which represents people born in the U.S. with at least one foreign-born parent or is a U.S. citizen by birth, is quickly becoming the fastest-growing segment in the next 15 years. It is expected that by the year 2020, second generation will represent 36% of all Latinos, out-numbering the first-generation segment.

The study sought to elicit an in-depth psychographic profile of these young adults and understand what they are feeling today regarding ethnicity, culture, language, family, and religion. It was conducted to better inform mun2 and its trade partners of the importance of producing programming and marketing opportunities that are relevant and resonate with this powerful audience.

“The findings of this study make it clear that young Latinos as a targeted demo have fallen through the cracks in the general marketing arena,” said Antoinette Zel, Senior Executive Vice President Network Strategy at Telemundo. “Simply, there is an enormous opportunity to market to them given that their population numbers are too big to ignore and their purchasing power, so significant.”

Executed by Look-Look, the study was administered in an inventive, unique and multi-tiered style, using innovative qualitative and quantitative research methods including ethnographies, blogs and visual journals, as well as formal quantitative techniques to survey over 1,800 young adults in seven of the top ten markets where 14-34 year-old Latinos concentrate.

“We are at the tipping point of an emerging new lifestyle category that will greatly affect American and global culture. Young Latino Americans are in the process of innovating their own customized culture that encompasses music, language, fashion, food, entertainment and beyond,” added Sharon Lee, Co-President/Co-Founder of Look-Look, Inc. “It’s an exciting time and this young community is absolutely aware that they are the next big thing.”

Conclusion and implications for advertisers and marketers found in the study include that there are missing links in connecting to this audience, as there is a need for relevant brands and products. Yet, the following criteria must be taken into account. Advertisers and marketers must not force them to choose one culture over the other. They need to embrace the hybrid world Young Latino Americans live in by following their lead and create a new category forming a new brand directed to them. Acknowledging their complexity and establishing a meaningful definition, as they are one group, is important.

The study covers several key areas of interest including identity, ethnicity, culture and lifestyle and accessibility which include:

* 79% of Young Latino Americans (YLA) cannot identify a brand or company that is accurately targeting Latinos.

* There is a growing sense of culture/population explosion among YLA; they are savvy to the fact that there is always an of-the-moment ethnicity, they feel its their turn to be in the spotlight and they feel a sense of empowerment because they are well-aware that Latinos will be the ethnic majority in 15 years.

Defining their Ethnicity

* When it comes to nationality, YLA are specific and identify themselves by their country of origin. The younger age group of 14-24 year-olds are more likely than those aged 25-34 to identify with specific nationality based on preferences of their parents and grandparents. The younger segments refer to nationality as a way to be more unique.

* YLA feel that the current definition of being Latino is based on language and looks: 59% say that other people think Latinos must speak Spanish; 58% say other people think Latinos must look “Spanish” (dark hair, eyes and skin).

* Because not all YLA look Latino or speak Spanish, many feel the need to explain themselves: 36% say people don’t believe them when they tell them they are Latino; 29% feel like they have to prove their Latino identity to people.

A Hybrid World

* YLA exist in a hybrid world and are masters at navigating their spaces and identities; 77% report that they are in control of which identity all or most of the time.

* YLA identify with being Latino when they are with their family (48%), around Latino friends (43%), in their home (41%) and in their country of origin (41%).

* YLA identify with being American when they are with non-Latino friends (31%), in public spaces (26%), at school (24%) and at work (24%).

* Their Latino and American identities intersect often, such as when in public spaces (59%), at school (50%), in bars and clubs (48%) and with non-Latino friends (47%).

Values and Beliefs

* Being Latino means more than just speaking and looking Spanish; to YLA it means being family oriented (84%), proud (83%), hard working (81%), passionate (80%), tied to tradition (77%), religious (71%), and believing in higher education (60%) and giving back to their community (53%).

* YLA are unconventional in terms of religion; 60% believe you do not have to go to church in order to prove your faith to God and 49% believe religion is an extremely important part of their lives.

Ties to Culture

* YLA are extremely interested in maintaining a connection with their culture; 67% agree that this is something that is important to them and nearly half of YLA have the desire to form a stronger connection to their Latino culture.

* While YLA don’t seem panicked, there is some concern over the possibility of becoming disconnected: 31% agree that they are afraid of losing the connection; 30% feel that they are unequipped to pass down their culture, and 25% are unsure of how to maintain the connection.

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