By Dr. Maria G. Hernandez
Latina Cubicle Confidential™
In the next two years, the US Latino population will top 50 million and our purchasing power will exceed $1 Trillion. Just to put that in perspective, there are more Spanish-speaking people in the US than all the residents of Canada. This is the largest economic power base of all major ethnic groups in the nation.
As a result of being younger on average, Latinos also purchase a wider range of consumer products, too. There are few industries in the US that can afford to ignore the growing purchasing power of Latinos and few political leaders who can dismiss our community without dire consequences.
What does this mean for you at your workplace or for your career?
Plenty! Your employer has the benefit of tapping into your knowledge of our culture and community to discuss how best to position their brand, their services, and their product in order to access the Latino consumer.
Depending on your specific position, you can serve as a bridge to the Latino community and make sure that the benefits of the products and services your company sells are positioned for success among different groups — immigrants, first generation and beyond.
If you are bilingual, you have the added advantage of being able to connect with customers, suppliers and vendors in 26 Spanish-speaking countries of the world that can offer goods and services to your company.
If your workplace has a Latino Employee Resource Group, you may also have opportunities to conduct focus groups among other Latino employees so that you can contribute to the design of new products and services tailored to the Latino community.
These products can make all the difference in a company’s profitability and long-term competitiveness.
Latinos are also using social media more than other ethnic groups as we adopt internet technologies in great number. Recent research reports that 35 million Latinos — more than half of us in the US — are online and more Latinos gain access to the internet each day.
We are buying and communicating online in greater numbers each year with Facebook,Twitter and Google+ as the most popular social media that can help us connect with families and friends across the globe. If you are one of those participating in the digital community, this is another added skill and resource to share at work — yes, at work!
While the added value you bring to the workplace is enormous, the challenge for Latinas may be in making the case that you bring unique skills to the workplace. Latinas can feel some discomfort about self-promotion. And in some workplace environments, there may actually be some legitimate concerns about avoiding this kind of attention.
The place to begin, however, is in a conversation with other Latinos at your workplace to test the ideas you have about positioning a product or service. Latinos are so diverse and it is not feasible to represent every unique group with one initiative.
The next step is to speak with your boss about the kind of ideas you have about reaching out to our community. You may want to share something about your own experiences with a particular product or industry and how you would like to translate that to more opportunity.
Take the time to discuss just how your ability to connect with other Latinos and Latinas in person and online can be an invaluable source of market information. Your insights, ideas, and experiences in our community can translate into specific business opportunities for your employer and that’s all the better for you, too.
Dr. Maria G. Hernandez has 20 years experience consulting in both the United States and Mexico to senior executives in Fortune 50 companies and facilitated change initiatives for elected officials and their staff. She has worked in academia, business, nonprofits, technology startups, and public agencies. For more information, visit Latina Cubicle Confidential™.