May 312011
 

A recent Census discovery made some internet buzz a few weeks ago. An article in the Patriot News of central Pennsylvania reported that the Hispanic population of Lancaster County has surpassed that of the Amish. The county is traditionally known as “Amish Country” by locals. Statistics from the 2010 Census show that 45,000 Latinos live in Lancaster County compared to 30,000 Amish residents as estimated by Elizabethtown College. This is a 35% increase in the county’s Latino population over the last decade. The ever relevant Latino news blogNewsTaco.com picked up the story as well and suggested a reason for the increase in Hispanic populations of this region is related to a tolerance for people with different lifestyles, like the Amish. Amish populations have had a steep tradition of modest, faith-based living for generations and abstain from modern conveniences and materialism.

“Statistics from the 2010 Census show that 45,000 Latinos live in Lancaster County compared to 30,000 Amish residents as estimated by Elizabethtown College.”

The news has inspired me to consider this question: What do the Amish and Latino populations have in common? Here are a couple thoughts to consider and implications of what these can mean for outreach and marketing to Hispanic populations.

In northern Michigan where I grew up, Amish families have held a modest yet growing presence. Many of these families have forged a living in this region with its small towns and agricultural history. On occasion my wife and I will visit my hometown of Marion, Michigan. Over the last few years, she has taken an interest in the Amish lifestyle, customs, and crafts. Being someone who also grew up with modesty, the Amish way of life reminds her of a simpler time from her childhood in the mountains of Puerto Rico. She often recollects her years en el campo with crops, animals, and a respect for the land and hard working people. Seeing the Amish gives her memories of these times and a longing to one day return to them.

Local Grand Rapids, Michigan entrepreneur and artist Oswaldo Garcés, a native of Ecuador, also finds solace in the Amish lifestyle. In 2009, Garcés entered the popularArtPrize competition with a series of paintings called The Amish Campesinos. In his artist statement he relates, “Coming from the highlands of Ecuador, I grew up seeing the simple but rich lives of farmers. I see a similar connection to this reality in the Amish lifestyle. The process of creating this work has furthered my understanding of these different cultures and their well rooted beliefs that are the foundation for their quality of life.”

I believe there is a connection between Latin American populations in the U.S., especially immigrants, and the Amish inspred “simple life” many feel they have left behind. These individuals are nostalgic not only for their cultures and nationalities, but for a lifestyle of less complexity. I sometimes ask people what they feel is one of the most challenging elements of acculturating to the U.S. Many have related it can be difficult getting used to what they perceive as a faster paced and sometimes more stressful lifestyle.

“I sometimes ask people what they feel is one of the most challenging elements of acculturating to the U.S. Many have related it can be difficult getting used to what they perceive as a faster paced and sometimes more stressful lifestyle.”

As marketers, we look for culturally relevant insights that deliver value. Many of these insights relate to the nationalities, customs, and attitudes of Latino populations. In addition, I would like to add lifestyle. What can we learn from the modest lifestyle of the Amish and how can we relate this to what Hispanic populations value? How does this longing for a simpler lifestyle motive Latinos in their purchasing habits and consumer behavior? Can these insights challenge a company or organization’s brand equity among Latin American stakeholders?

The featured guest post was written by the talented Jonathan Barrera Mikulich of www.Latinobrandingpower.com

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