Walmart Model: Latinos Are Great Hope For U.S. Economy

I read this sentence this morning:

Hispanics are achieving a status as super-consumers that is making other minority groups and even the mainstream consumer look anemic.

After I was done flexing my super-consumer might I finished reading the article. It was in Huffing Post, and it talked about how Latinos are leading the U.S. economic recovery, uphill as it may be. The numbers are well known:

  • $1.2 trillion projected purchasing power in 2012
  • 50 million plus projected population

Latinos are touted as the great hope for the economy – we’ve been hearing this for a while now. We also heard, since the beginning of the economic downturn, that this would be a long term and jobless recovery.  Almost every economist that ventured out of their shell at the beginning of the turmoil said and repeated that this recession would be different, that it would take longer to recover, and that unemployment would be a problem for the long run (Here’s a report from the Wall Street Journal from August of 2009 that talked about slow and jobless) . And we’re surprised that the recovery is moving like a slug?

You’d think that knowing what we knew, and knowing what we know – that the recovery would be difficult and that Latinos would be pumping life into the economy – we’d be doing things a little differently. Instead we’re cutting education funding, limiting access to political participation, scapegoating immigrants, attacking healthcare reform, and passing outrageous state-level laws that make being Latino in public a crime of suspicion.

There are some for profit organizations that see things a little differently.  Think what you may of Walmart, its reputation being well deserved or not, the company has put together what amounts to a full court press to cajole, attract and woo the Latino consumer  (I reiterate, consumer. How it allegedly treats or mistreats its workforce is another question entirely). The Huffington Post explains, Walmart has:

been attracting increasing numbers of Hispanics to their stores by integrating them into all facets of its business, including merchandising, marketing, operations, and community outreach programs. One campaign called “The Best Heritage is a Good Education” addressed the need for higher learning while acknowledging the importance of culture – displaying a genuine understanding of what’s important to the community.

The point is that if Walmart get’s it…

Walmart has even challenged its manufacturing partners to provide products specifically designed for Hispanic consumers and their needs.

It’s not that difficult a formula. The way that Latinos are now positioned in the fabric of the U.S. society and economy, if Latinos thrive the U.S. thrives. It really is that simple. And we can take it a step further: the things that will help Latinos thrive will help all other Americans thrive. Namely, access to quality education (read here equity in public education funding, higher education grants and college student loans); affordable healthcare; small business and entrepreneur opportunities (read here micro-lending, economic development and start-up incubators); comprehensive immigration reform; to name just a few.

The difference is a shift in perspective. Walmart now sees the Latino consumer as “our” customer, not just as “a” customer. And that paradigm shift makes a big difference.

So I’ll say it again. If Walmart get’s it…

[Photo By DieselDemon]

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