Over the past few years, Americans have been waking up to the growing Hispanic presence amongst them. Not only are there more Hispanics than ever as a percentage of the total US population, but the Hispanic community is growing more mature, as the next generation takes on higher-paying jobs, moves into the suburbs and has more money to spend. Of particular note to marketers is that, unlike other communities before them, Hispanics are hanging on to their language and will often expect to be addressed in Spanish or take their money elsewhere. This is one of the reasons that work by people like Leslie Inzunza, who advises on law firms marketing to Hispanics, is so important.
Canadians are used to bilingualism (English/French), so you would think they would be jumping on this brand new market opportunity in their own back yard by teaching their kids Spanish (a language similar to, but easier than, French). Not so.
The head-in-the-sand approach of most Canadians is even more worrisome when considering the change happening in Canada. I just returned from a suburb of Montreal that I know well, where Greek, Jewish, Middle Eastern, Caribean and Indian minorities abound. Our family picnic lasted 7 hours, during which time we conversed with four Spanish families. Considering that we did not speak with most strangers in the park, that number speaks volumes about the shifting demographics right in Canada. It mirrors what I saw the week before in Niagara Falls, where the two visible minorities that I saw in large numbers were Indians (recognizable by their skin and attire) and Hispanics (recognizable by their language). It mirrors what I have been overhearing in shopping malls, in bowling alleys, in stores around Ottawa.
America’s changing demographic is also Canada’s changing demographic. Funny that Canadians, already attuned to bilingualism, are so slow to notice!