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No Crystal Ball Needed—A Sneak Preview Into What The 2020 Census Will Reveal

Since the U.S. Supreme Court has settled the debate around the inclusion of the citizenship question in the upcoming 2020 census, the business community can once again focus on what truly matters: the rich data it will provide to all of us, and how to apply the new learnings that this data will unlock.

However, very few marketers know that you don’t need to wait every ten years to access some of the data the census covers thanks to the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is an annual survey managed by the census team of more than 3.5 million households, which covers the entire country. It provides all of us with estimates on the population’s age, income, and race, among other relevant data.

A few weeks ago, the ACS updated its latest estimates, allowing us to have a sense of how much the country has changed since the 2010 census, as it continues its trend towards significant demographic shifts.

Here are some of my highlights after analyzing the ACS data:

1 – Non-Minority Population Growth Was Close to Zero:

Between 2010 and 2018, the U.S. population rose to approximately 327 million. This 6% increase is considered a very healthy growth considering the declining population growth seen in Japan and parts of Europe. During these years, we added more than 18 million net new residents to the country. The caveat? Non-minority (white) population growth was stagnant, adding a mere 0.1% growth, led by New York, New Jersey, and Illinois, and 24 of the 50 states experienced a decline in their respective White population.

2 – Multicultural Population Growth Is Exploding:

On the other side of the population spectrum, multicultural population growth was significant, with a 16% increase between 2010 and 2018. The Asian-American population grew 28% to reach almost 19 million (6% of the country’s population), the Hispanic population grew nearly 19% to reach 60 million (18% of the population), and the African American population grew almost 8% to reach approximately 41 million (13% of the population).

3 – Multicultural Consumers Are Everywhere:

In the early ages of multicultural marketing, reaching multicultural consumers used to be considered part of a regional/local marketing effort, after all, there was a high concentration of minority consumers in very established geographical patterns.

Today, while the traditional multicultural states are still leading from an absolute standpoint, the most significant growth in multicultural population from 2010 to 2018 was in states not traditionally considered to be multicultural states. Driving the growth were North Dakota (64% multicultural population growth since 2010), New Hampshire (37%), Iowa (36%), Vermont (34%) and South Dakota (32%). These migration patterns are probably the result of the oil and gas boom in these markets, which underscores that multicultural consumers seek markets where they can have a combination of good jobs and affordable housing.

4 – Minority-Majority Is Becoming a Reality:

When the 2010 census was conducted, four states and the District of Columbia were the only minority-majority states, Hawaii, California, New Mexico, and Texas. Last year Maryland and Nevada joined the list. Altogether, minorities in 2018 represented 40% of the country’s total population, four percentage points above the 2010 Census level.

Furthermore, we know which states are next in line to become minority-majority: Georgia, Florida, Arizona, New York, and New Jersey; followed closely by Mississippi and Louisiana.

Why Is This Important?

There are many reasons Corporate America should carefully follow the demographic shifts the United States is facing. Let’s focus on a few. First of all, our economic growth is mostly driven by consumer consumption. If our country’s population were declining, there’s a high probability our economy won’t grow as fast as it could.

Secondly, adding a younger set of workers (and taxpayers) will be extremely important for a country that is facing growing deficits for years to come. Moreover, these younger taxpayers can help with the rate of Social Security’s imbalance between its payments and revenues.

Furthermore, multicultural populations bring with them a unique set of consumption patterns that can inject an additional level of dynamism and innovation in multiple categories.

Lastly, a more diverse America can close the gap between competitors and rearrange marketplaces based on brands’ abilities to anticipate the consequences of these changes quickly. The impact will be felt in product development, channel marketing, distribution, advertising, pricing, and more.

Thanks to the ACS data, Corporate America has a sneak peek into the transformational changes this country is facing way before we start getting results from next year’s census, which is an important advantage when companies are working on their strategies for next year and beyond, and for that, no crystal ball is needed.


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