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Opinion: Hispanic Data Sources may no longer be Reliable

Just when you thought you had a solid grasp of the statistics available on the growing Hispanic population, new numbers emerge. The new statistics support the same direction of growth but at a faster rate. If what has been said about the numerous opportunities to be gained from selling to Hispanic consumers, has not yet impressed you, perhaps the adjusted numbers will.

Recently, three Latin American Associations (Venezuelan, Colombian, Ecuadorian) organized a Hispanic Market Forum in which Jeff Passel, a Senior Research Associate for the PEW Hispanic Center in Washington DC, unveiled the 2008 adjusted numbers for Hispanics. According to Mr. Passel, these new numbers may be telling us a different story.

For the past year experts believed that by 2050, 25% of the US population would be of Hispanic descent for a total of 100 million Hispanics. The upwardly adjusted numbers – according to the PEW Hispanic Center – are now closer to 30% with an expected 128 million Hispanics. The 28 million difference from this years projections as compared to last year’s numbers presents a potential red flag for Hispanic data source favorites (i.e. U.S. Census Bureau and Nielsen Research.)

If in one year experts readjusted their projections for the Hispanic population in 2050 from 100 million to 128 million (a 28% increase), what additional adjustments can one expect to read by next year? …another 28% increase? Perhaps these data experts who make their predictions based on data and trends available to them today, may need to re-evaluate their assumptions more carefully before releasing their predictions. Underestimating projections by 28% should encourage data buyers to demand an explanation that details their data collection methodologies.

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The implications of underestimating population growth ultimately affects wealth generation and living standards. For example, with more Hispanics predicted by 2050, economists have had to readjust their numbers to reflect more wage earners and buying consumers. Economists projections for the Hispanic purchasing power has been readjusted from the previously accepted $1 trillion by 2010 to $1 trillion by 2008 and $2 trillion by 2015 (PEW). This aggressive timetable is quite startling and further supports the unpredictability of Hispanic consumer markets going forward.

To put these numbers into perspective, one should consider that for the 50 or so years that it took Hispanics to achieve the first $1 trillion of purchasing power, the projected next $1 trillion will take only seven years. Does this trend suggest that subsequent $1 trillion increases in Hispanic purchasing power will take less than seven years? What will be the Hispanic purchasing power in 2020? … and 2030? Should we expect more data revisions from the experts? Could it be that the data available regarding Hispanics today is no longer reliable?

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