No Longer Niche Market? Latinos Don't Want to be Pigeonholed, Study Says

Young Latinos are as passionate about the hottest smartphone or the latest Nike sneaker as any other consumers and, according to a new study, it may no longer be a good idea to pigeonhole them by their cultural roots.

A report by multicultural creative agency LatinWorks and consumer research consultants at EthniFacts shows Latinos are increasing identifying themselves as bicultural — while they are still embracing their heritage, they are also becoming more intertwined with mainstream America.

“We believe our research has uncovered a new kind of milestone,” Carlos Arce, founding partner of Ethnifacts, told Fox News Latino. “Hispanics are reaching ‘cultural sustainability’ which is basically a term to describe that Hispanics are incorporating fully into American society.”

The evolving identity, Arce said, could change the way businesses market to Hispanics.

A growing number of companies have tried to figure out ways to cater to the country’s booming Latino population. There were about 50.5 million living in the United States in 2010, a number that is expected to grow 167 percent by 2050.

And tapping into the Latino buying power – which is estimated to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2015 – could be big business.

But how to clinch the Latino market – when they are already inundated with options and think of themselves of Americans first – is still uncertain.

The study, called The PLUS+ Identity – Shifting Paradigms and the Future of Latino Culture in the U.S., shows Latinos don’t identify themselves from a country of origin.

According to Christian Filli, vice president of strategic planning at LatinWorks, you can’t really market to Latinos without understanding where people’s mindset and heart is at. “You can’t really think of Latinos in the U.S. in the context of the same old cultural bucket.”

He said that, to them, it’s not about being Latino or American. Rather, they are now more likely to embrace a multicultural “from here and from there” identity.

"They are assertively both, gradually redefining,” the middle ground of the American Latino identity while “becoming more comfortable with their 'and' status,” claims the report.

The study also touches on the long-running debate on the defining factors of the Latino identity.

About 85 percent of the Latinos surveyed feel both equally American and Latino and want to stay that way. While 63 percent of those polled are proud to be Latino, only 50 percent say this identity feels natural to them.

The shift among young Latinos is to see their identity as a balancing act that influences their future.

“Millennials have a very important role in this phenomenon because they see cultural fluency as being an asset in the labor force,” says Arce.

For the millennials who don’t adjust, the survey says they risk being left behind and thus "insulated from the cultural evolution.”