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Latin Beat

You, too, could tap into this $273 billion consumer market -- if your pitch is right. Here's a must-read introduction to the vast, complex world of Latino, USA.

Successful entrepreneurs are always looking for new opportunities--those elusive untapped markets. So what would you do if you learned of a country with a population larger than Canada's? And what if this country's population was growing at a rate six times that of the United States and boasted consumer spending power of more than $273 billion? Even better, it's nearby, and there are no costly tariffs or import taxes. Surely forward-thinking small-business owners would want to introduce products or services there.

Welcome to Latino U.S.A., the most exciting marketing opportunity in America today. Here are some vital statistics about this dynamic market:

  • It's large. With a total Latino population of about 30 million, the United States has the fifth-largest Latino population in the world, smaller only than those of Mexico, Spain, Colombia and Argentina.
  • It's fast-growing. Between 1995 and 2000, U.S. Latinos will account for 37.5 percent of the total population growth in the United States. By 2005, Latinos will outnumber African-Americans as America's largest minority group. Most of this growth will be due to a natural increase (births over deaths) as opposed to immigration, as many mistakenly think.
  • It's young. On average, Latinos are younger than the general population. With a median age of 25 (as compared to 34 for the general market), the Latino market is poised for even more growth. By some estimates, more than 40 percent of the babies born today in California are Latino.
  • It's geographically concentrated. More than 70 percent of the U.S. Latino population lives in just four states: California, Florida, New York and Texas. More than 45 percent of the population lives in just five cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco.

Latino U.S.A. is not just one behemoth, homogenous group, however. Understanding both the obvious and subtle diversities within the Latino market is your key to success.

Christy Haubegger is the founder and publisher of Latina magazine in New York City.

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This article was originally published in the June 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Latin Beat.

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