Florida has always had a special bond with Latin America and the Spanish-speaking countries of the Caribbean. This connection isn’t just because of our shared vulnerability to hurricanes and tropical storms, but also because one out of every four Floridians is Hispanic.
Following the recent experience with Hurricanes Irma and Maria, it’s no wonder many who live on devastated Caribbean islands are looking to Florida as a place of refuge. Florida has the third largest Hispanic population in the United States, thanks to our long history of welcoming people from Spanish-speaking nations.
Now we are squarely in the month-long celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a time to honor the unique contributions of America’s 57 million Hispanic residents – 4 million of whom, like me, call Florida home.
The jubilee kicked off on September 15, marking the date in 1821 when five Latin American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua – gained their independence from Spain.
The appeal of Florida’s Hispanic population lies in its diverse nature. Thanks to two major waves of immigration from Cuba – from the Cuban Revolution in the 19th century and from Castro in the 20th century – more than two-thirds of all Cubans in the U.S. call Florida home. Now projections are that by 2020, there will be more Puerto Ricans enjoying the Florida sunshine than New York’s bitter winters. Large populations from Central and South America, along with those from Caribbean nations, mean Florida’s Hispanic community will only continue to grow in economic, cultural, and political influence.
A cardinal rule of marketing is to go where your customers live, and those looking to sell in Florida have certainly recognized the clout of the Hispanic market. While the Hispanic community long lagged behind other groups on tech use, a 2016 Nielsen report found that “Hispanics own more gadgets and spend a longer amount of time using their digital devices” than other Americans. Almost seven in 10 Florida Hispanics own a smartphone. Our marketing strategies and techniques must evolve with these numbers, prompting a deeper dive into what the Hispanic community expects and looks for when making purchasing decisions.
It’s easy to speak generally about tactics, but marketers and communicators must employ a thoughtful strategy to help open eyes and ears. In Florida, Hispanics contributed more than one out of every six dollars in tax revenue paid by residents of the state. Nationally, Hispanic buying power is predicted to grow from $13.9 trillion in 2016 to $16.6 trillion by 2021.
These are huge numbers, highlighting just how much Florida and the nation rely on our Hispanic friends and neighbors, in more ways than one.
Hispanic Americans have always played a vital role in shaping the state of Florida. The community’s size and influence have grown considerably in recent years, and it’s good to know it will continue to flourish in the years to come.
With major roles in business, education, politics, law enforcement, culture, and so much more, National Hispanic Heritage Month is a wonderful opportunity to recognize the people and the communities they serve, and it is a well-deserved recognition of our amazing, outstanding talents and culture.