The Definitions: When trying to give a general definition to ethnic groups, we have to consider how people define themselves and how these groups are perceived. Not easy, I know!
If I take my particular case to be a sample of this universe, so you will be even more confused! : Born in Venezuela, from immigrant parents (from Europe and South America), worked and studied in three different parts of the world, I think in Spanish but have to communicate in English and another two languages… I defined myself as Latin American or South American.
Let’s attempt to describe these three groups and see if we can now categorize “somehow” Latinos and Hispanics:
Latin American: divide our continent in two parts: 1) US-CAN, 2) “The rest” , starting from Mexico to Argentina. In theory, Latin Americans are those individuals who live in Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries (Yes, Brazil is considered a Latin American Country!), including the Caribbean.
Hispanic: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
…”Hispanic (Spanish: hispano, hispánico) is a term that originally denoted a relationship to the ancient Hispania, a country that geographically coincided with the Iberian Peninsula….”
- 15.8% of the population in the US defined themselves as “Hispanics” and their concept is not only based on the first language they speak, but also in the racial characteristics.
- Here is the problem: A second generation Mexican or Venezuelan is, in theory, “Hispanic” or of “Hispanic Background. Generally, the umbilical cord with Latin America doesn’t exist anymore. These individuals born or raised in the US are “dysfunctional Spanish Speakers”(*) and have acquired the consumer behavior of their American counterparts.
- The Expats: these are your Latin-Americans, but they could come from so many different countries that “One Hispanic Strategy wont fit all”!!! Generally this is a highly educated group (MBA’s from North America or Europe) , bilingual individuals, and working/ worked for multinational companies.
The Brazilians: They are not Hispanics, and those living in the US don’t recognize themselves as “Latinos”. Just in Brazil, there are so many social- ethnical differences from one region to another, that you need to have a clear understanding of this society before you classify them and create your marketing strategy.
(*) Dysfunctional Spanish Speakers: individuals who have learned Spanish in their household, no formal training was involved; therefore, they have poor reading and writing capabilities….