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November 1, 2011

– By Angela Rodriguez | Director of Strategic Insights –

It’s a word heard often around Alma Agency these days. But that wasn’t always the case. There was a time where we only had a hunch that such folks existed. At first, there was just a sense that our consumers were changing, we saw signs of an emergent pride in Hispanicity that just hadn’t been present before. At first it was subtle; asides during focus groups where the focus was on anything but culture, a trend of wearing rosaries and other religious items as jewelry,  reports of more young kids speaking some level of Spanish. Nothing major but our cultural-radars had been activated.

As the days went by these “signs” were increasingly prevalent all around us, but something simply clicked when in mid-2007 there was quite the media storm when a major national department store stocked shirts that said “Brown is the new white.” We had been seeing reports of shirts and other Brown Pride gear across the country, but it wasn’t until this controversy hit our backyard that we had our “ah-ha! moment.” Of COURSE we said, it’s about a pride in being Latino that wasn’t so blatant among youth in past generations. But even at that moment, when it was the Latino pride that made things click, we were clear that it was about more than Latino pride. What we saw wasn’t at the exclusion of their American selves. It was always in our minds, in addition to their Latino-ness.

From that point on we were hooked on this group who ultimately, after extensive quantitative desk research and qualitative fieldwork, we dubbed Fusionistas. We defined them as a subset of the bicultural Hispanic young adult segment; they are the mostly U.S.-born children of immigrants. They prefer the English language, but their tie to Hispanic culture is nearly as strong as those of Preservers (their Spanish-oriented, high-Hispanic-affinity peers). Spanish language plays an important role in that dual identity, which happily expresses itself in a voracious appetite for music, food, social networking, fashion, sports and other forms of culture. But most importantly we recognized that they feel both 100% Hispanic and 100% American and that is what truly defines and sets them apart from previous generations of young Latinos. And what we love best? It allowed us to have a framework wherein assimilation was neither a goal nor an endpoint.


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