On Monday, more than 350 Hispanic brand leaders and agency executives will meet at the United Nations in New York City for the inaugural Hispanic Leadership Summit, which aims to end the fragmentation that exists within the U.S. Latino community.
"There is absolutely no question that the growth of America relies on the Hispanic community, and the only people who have not realized that is the Hispanic community," said Claudia Romo Edelman, who previously served in the executive office of the secretary-general for the United Nations, leading communications and advocacy for the Sustainable Development Goals.
Romo Edelman spent a year trying to better understand U.S. Hispanics.
"We knew a lot about microtrends and the numbers and issues, but we didn’t know the barriers. The one thing we don’t know about is Hispanics themselves," she said, adding that she’s Hispanic and it "matters to me."
She commissioned an online study with the We Are All Human foundation, which was conducted by Zeno Group, to see the outlook that the U.S. Hispanic/Latino demographic has on the political landscape, business and education, and personal values.
Nearly 80 percent of participants don’t know their own contributions and strengths, said Romo Edelman, like the fact that 86 percent of new businesses in the last decade have been launched by Hispanics in America.
"Any brand that wants to grow needs to tap into the Hispanic community," she said.
Another key insights, Romo Edelman said, is that Hispanics are "fragmented at the core."
"We don’t all speak with the same voice and we don’t have the same habits, but challenges can’t be overcome when fragmented. We need to unify and have a common dream," she added.
According to the study, regardless of cultural background, 90 percent of Hispanics surveyed said they "feel Hispanic."
Uniting under a joint agenda will not only benefit the Latino community - it will help marketers reach the demographic in more meaningful ways. For example, Romo Edelman said the LGBT community went from being nearly invisible to being "absolutely proud" and rallying together. The community was able to join up for marriage rights, and now many marketers are also supporting the group.
Monday’s Summit will include 350 participants from the likes of PepsiCo, Microsoft, Chevron, Walmart, Viacom, BBDO, McCann, VMLY&R, APCO and more. For brands, the summit is especially important because 84 percent of U.S. Hispanics surveyed said they would be more favorable to a company that plays a positive role in their lives and community.
Attendees will vote during the event to figure out three main areas to rally behind as part of a marketing agenda for the future, such as education, access to capital, perception change, role models and more.