Rapid Response Threadmaker
- Feb 9, 2009
One of the greatest challenges facing marketing departments and political campaigns today is the inability to discern signals from noise. As a professional market researcher, I see this on a daily basis. Social media listening teams regularly confuse online chatter for real-life trends and this can misinform entire PR and advertising strategies.
Over the past few months and years, several of our clients have noticed the term “Latinx” trending as a new ethnic label to describe Latinos. It has been used by academics, activists, and major companies, including NBC and Marvel, as well as politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren. We were curious about the appeal of “Latinx” among the country’s 52 million people of Latin American ancestry and decided to test its popularity.
While my colleagues and I are progressive on social issues, as researchers, we have to put aside our personal biases and render advice based on the best available empirical evidence. To examine the acceptance of “Latinx” our firm conducted a nationwide poll of Latinos using a 508-person sample that is demographically representative of Census figures, yielding a ± 5% margin of error with a 95% confidence interval.
We presented our respondents with seven of the most common terms used to describe Latinos and asked them to select the one that best describes them. When it came to “Latinx,” there was near unanimity. Despite its usage by academics and cultural influencers, 98% of Latinos prefer other terms to describe their ethnicity. Only 2% of our respondents said the label accurately describes them, making it the least popular ethnic label among Latinos.
Some have speculated that “Latinx” resonates with women and Latino youth. We found no evidence of this in our study. While Latinos’ preferences for other labels vary by age, the limited appeal of “Latinx” is consistent across generations and genders. Only 3% of 18–34 year-old respondents in our poll selected the term as their preferred ethnic label. This was roughly the same as the 2% of 35–49 year-olds. No respondents over 50 selected the term. In other words, 97% of millennial and Gen-Z Latinos prefer to be called something other than “Latinx.” Meanwhile, only 3% of women and 1% of men selected the term as their preferred ethnic identifier.