Demographics Drive the Business

May 11, 2011

You don’t necessarily need to see census data to know that the profile of the “typical consumer” has changed over the past 10 years. But the data now being released on 2010 population, race and ethnicity (economic and household demographic data will be arriving later in May and June) does reveal significant changes since the last count was taken.

Our colleague Sherri Van Saxon, of Van Saxon & Associates, in Santa Fe, NM, recently shared some of the data she’s been working with on behalf of her clients:

  • From 2000 to 2010 regional population growth was three to four times greater for the South and West (14.3% and 13.8%, respectively) than for the Midwest (3.9%) and Northeast (3.2%)
  • Among the fastest-growing metropolitan areas the population of Las Vegas-Paradise, NV, increased by 42% from 2000 to 2010; Provo-Orem, UT, by 40%; and Austin-Round Rock, TX, by 37%
  • In the largest U.S. cities no single racial or ethnic group predominates and no single demographic group represents a majority, over 50%, of the population
  • The Asian population grew faster than any other major race group between 2000 and 2010, growing by 43.3% versus the White/Caucasian growth rate of 9.7%
  • Hispanics now outnumber African-Americans for the first time in most U.S. metropolitan areas.  In New Jersey, Hispanics just passed African Americans as that state’s largest minority group.  In Dallas County the Hispanic minority grew from 13% in 2000 to 38% today

As Sherri points out, these population movements and the race and Hispanic origin data underline a demographic transformation that will result in major social and cultural shifts in our nation—and that can have a real impact on marketing and menu development. For instance, Hispanics are much more likely to bring children when they dine out, potentially impacting overall party profiles and menu choices.

There are now some 50.5 million Hispanics living in this country, or 16.3% of the population. Moreover, the increase in the Hispanic population accounted for most of the nation’s growth (56%) from 2000 to 2010.


For restaurant operators, this represents an important opportunity, and in fact, according to NPD, Hispanics tally up 9.8 billion visits to restaurants in the United States each year.

But it’s also important to remember that Hispanics are not one monolithic group. They may come from cultures as diverse as Mexico (representing the largest population group, with about 31 million in 2008, when the total Latino population was 46.8 million), Guatemala (just under 1 million individuals) and Peru (519,000).

Income, education, average age and proficiency with English also vary greatly. For instance, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, for the same year 80.5% of those born in Puerto Rico report being proficient in English, versus 39.1% of those born in Guatemala. This affects marketing from the point of view of both prospective customers and prospective employees.

Van Saxon & Associates specializes in helping clients develop successful short- and long-term marketing and business strategies based on the comprehensive research and analysis she conducts for each client.You can order maps and data by census tracks, congressional districts, towns or cities, counties or states. For more information, call 505.231-2211 or email Sherri Van Saxon at