Over the last three decades, The San Jose Group has been a part of and seen many “firsts.” A couple of weeks ago, we saw another “first” – the words “Hispanic population” and “declining” in the same report. That’s right – the Pew Hispanic Center released a study that revealed that Mexican immigration is down by as much as 67% since 2001.
Because we are talking about the largest subgroup inside of our market, we felt compelled to take a closer look and unpack the implication that this trend might have on today’s brands that are banking on the growth, not the decline, of this important market.
The July study, “Mexican immigrants: How many come? How many leave?” reported that the U.S saw as many as 600K new arrivals from Mexico from 2001-2002 and only 200K from 2008-2009. This study also reported that in the same years of comparison, emigration back to Mexico from the U.S. was virtually zero in 2001 as compared to 100K in 2008. So, doing the math, this translates into 500K fewer Mexican immigrants in the U.S. in 2008 as compared to 2001.
So do brands have a reason to be concerned? Could the U.S. economic downturn actually be creating a shortage of Hispanic consumers for brands to target? Is there a “mass exodus” brewing? In looking at the numbers, we can happily conclude that this trend is not a game changer for Hispanic marketers. While a 67% decrease between the years of comparison is significant, other trends and stats speak to the bigger picture:
1) The Pew report states that this fluctuation in Mexican immigration has been taking place since 2002, well before the 2009 downturn, and is most likely attributable to a combination of economic conditions and changes in U.S./Mexico border policy.
2) The 500K fewer immigrants represents only 1.1% of the total Hispanic population of 45 MM.
3) Even though 500K fewer Mexican immigrants arrived between 2002 and 2008, the total U.S. Hispanic population as a whole has shown annual growth of 1.2 MM per year, with 60% of this growth being driven by natural births. This means that the Hispanic segment still accounts for 50% of U.S. population growth and continues to be the primary reason that our country’s entire population is growing.
4) The immigrant population helps to fuel the unacculturated portion of our market, which is 25% of the U.S. Hispanic population vs. the 66% that is defined as bicultural, or partially acculturated. So it is reasonable to say that the largest critical mass of our market would be not as affected by this trend.
5) Regardless of immigration decline, the Hispanic segment population is still on track to reach 60 MM by 2020.
So, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief on this one. Our U.S. Hispanic population growth will continue to surge, even if immigration appears to be going through a slow season. About the only change we would recommend in response to this trend is, perhaps, to shift some of our attention toward “the other new arrivals” – the 1 million new Hispanic babies born in the U.S. every year and their moms!