Lynette Rambo | September 12, 2017
Today, close to 57 million people or 18% of the American population are of Hispanic or Latino origin (Nielsen). This represents a significant increase from 2000, which registered the Hispanic population at 35.3 million. In fact, the U.S. Census projects Hispanics will account for 65% of the nation’s population growth in the next 45 years.
The U.S. Census uses the terms “Hispanic” or “Latino” to refer to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.
Hispanic buying power in the U.S. in 2016 was larger than the GDP of Mexico and bigger than the economies of all but 14 countries in the world, reports the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business in their latest Multicultural Economy Report. The report estimates that minority groups are making the fastest gains in the nation’s $13.9 trillion buying power (estimated to reach $16.6 trillion by 2021).
Hispanics have serious purchasing power. It’s no surprise businesses throughout the country are trying to figure out how to tap into this lucrative market. Successful marketers will not focus so much on selling as on building long-term relationships and understanding the rich culture Hispanics add to America.
I have a personal passion for the Hispanic culture – especially for mis hermanas y hermanos de Mexico (my sisters and brothers from Mexico). From 2000 to 2005, I was Vice President of Marketing for Chocolate Bayou Community Credit Union (CBCFCU) in Alvin, Texas – between Houston and Galveston.
Texas is one of three main states that drive the U.S. Hispanic population growth. California and Florida are the other two (Pew). The Credit Union Movement basically ushered in the new millennium with a commitment to building awareness and providing safe financial services for the underserved Hispanic communities.
Along with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the Texas Credit Union League, CBCFCU understood the importance of embracing the underserved Hispanic populace and helping them achieve their financial goals. Credit Union outreach focused on both documented and undocumented individuals and families. Over several years, we worked to get to know and better understand the Hispanic culture and needs represented in our communities.
Our credit union first provided members with low-cost money wire transfer options. For an initial deposit of $5, an eligible individual could join the credit union by opening a savings account. Then they were able to utilize our wire transfer services for a nominal fee (around $10). Most of the wire transfers were to Mexico, but we also wired to Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and El Salvador.
CBCFCU also began accepting alternate forms of identification (such as the Mexican Matricula card or an Individual Tax Number) so individuals without a social security number could still have basic financial services. Because theft crimes against Hispanics in our area were increasing (especially on pay day) and check-cashing stations charged such high fees, we wanted to provide a safe and inexpensive alternative.
To get the word out, our credit union …
In 2002, I met with the local League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC Council 4729) about starting a Cinco de Mayo event in a park in the local barrio of Alvin. Up to that point, the town had never experienced the May 5th festival.
The credit union agreed to sponsor the event, raise funds among other local businesses, do the advertising, and provide a Co-Chair (which happened to be me). Our employees turned out in force to staff most of the event booths and activities each year – including La Tienda para Los Niños, a “store for children.” The purpose of the store was to teach kids the value of the play money they earned at the various activity booths around the park. They got to practice counting out money, determining how much they needed to earn to purchase the items they wanted, and learned a bit about commerce. It was a huge hit!
This event became more than just promoting financial services to an underserved community. Other organizations and vendors began setting up booths, as well, and more local businesses agreed to help sponsor it. One year, I even got all of our local, state, and federal representatives to attend and speak. The festival brought the whole community together – citizens, businesses, civic organizations, government, churches, health services, law enforcement, and educational institutions. It was a great way to foster cross-cultural understanding and camaraderie.
All proceeds from the festival went toward funding educational scholarships for underserved Hispanic students. We had a special banquet every year to present them.
Chocolate Bayou Community FCU sponsored this event for five years, and I continued to serve as Co-Chair with the LULAC President until my husband and I moved to Virginia. After that, it was established enough for Council 4729 to take over.
Some of my fondest memories were formed during those years, and my husband and I even joined the local Mexican Baptist Church in the barrio – Primera Iglesia Bautista. I jumped into the culture head first and started learning Spanish through immersion. I’m still not very good at it, but I try.
This National Hispanic Heritage Month, take some time to research the contributions Hispanics have made to your community and state. Find ways to participate in the rich culture this demographic has to offer. And, remember, it’s not “one size fits all.” 92% of the U.S. Hispanic population come from 10 different countries, and each one represents its own culture, personality, preferences (even language), and experiences.
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Lynette Rambo is a Certified Email Marketing Specialist and a Marketing Consultant for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. She has over 20 years of marketing, communications, design, and public relations experience for both small businesses and larger corporations. As a Marketing Consultant for ListEngage, Lynette consults clients on email marketing best practices, strategic planning, content creation, campaign management, and provides training and demos on the Marketing Cloud. She also works with the Salesforce CRM and connecting Sales and Marketing initiatives. You can contact Lynette at firstname.lastname@example.org.