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Want to see the future of a Bicultural America? Look to the border

April 9th, 2014 by Lee Vann 1 Comment

One of the hottest trends in Hispanic marketing industry is targeting “biculturals,” people who are equally comfortable navigating in two distinct cultures. The term is especially popular in describing second and third generation Latinos in the United States. This group—which tends to skew younger than the rest of the population—is just as comfortable enjoying the cultural traditions of the United States as they are partaking in the ones passed down to them by their immigrant parents and grandparents. They have no problem shopping at Trader Joe’s for tofu and frozen yogurt and then traveling to a Mexican market for carne asada and fresh tortillas.

Biculturalism is the norm at the U.S.-Mexico border

While marketers are just starting to embrace this notion, biculturalism has been a way of life along the U.S.–Mexico border for decades. And it’s especially true in places like the Tijuana/San Diego region, home to the busiest land border crossing in the world.

In order to survive and thrive, people on both sides have become well-versed in Mexican and U.S. cultures. This allows them to interact with friends, teachers, vendors, and customers in the method and language they prefer.

Combining Spanish and English has been common here for some time. One moment, you’re listening to a Spanish-language ballad on the radio, then an English-language ad for a restaurant comes on the air. You’re watching a baseball game in English and a Spanish-language ad for a truck is sandwiched between two others in English.

Billboards and business signs also reflect the bicultural nature of the border lifestyle, often featuring key words in both languages. This way, the consumer has no question about the products or services being offered.

Biculturalism is also seen online, with those on the border navigating seamlessly between English and Spanish.  A good example is the digital strategy of Tijuana’s professional soccer team, Club Tijuana, better known as Xolos.  Their website is available in both English and Spanish, because they know their target audience.

Marketers need to pay attention to biculturals

As the U.S. Hispanic population grows overall, Biculturalism is becoming more and more important. A recent study by Latinworks and Ethnifacts found:

  • 44 percent of Latinos surveyed consider themselves “bicultural”
  • 41 percent self-identified as “more Latino”
  • 15 percent consider themselves “more American”

The group was then asked about their bicultural aspirations:

  • 85 percent of Latinos who consider themselves “bicultural” want to stay the same
  • 45 percent of those who self-identified as “more Latino” want to become more “bicultural”
  • 71 percent of Latinos who called themselves “more American” aspire to become “bicultural”

As this group continues to grow at a rapid rate—fueled by births from second- and-third generation Latinos—it is inevitable that biculturalism will become more prominent in the mainstream. It’s just a matter of time.

It brings to mind an old phrase that expresses the sentiments of those who do not feel they belong in their new country or the country of their ancestors: “Ni de aquí, ni de allá,” meaning, “neither from here, nor from there.” Increasingly, this feeling is being replaced with bicultural confidence: “Soy de aquí, y de allá”—I am from here, and from there.

Come on down to the border for a firsthand look. If you do, don’t forget to stop by our offices to say hello.

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