My retro-acculturation-inspired business: Los Pollitos Dicen
The idea for Los Pollitos Dicen, the line of Spanish baby tees I co-launched with a Cuban-American friend, came in 2004. We took off in 2005.
The goal was to capture the color of our culture for the children of a new generation, a generation that would likely get less of the loving crazy Latinisms and Cubanisms we grew up with. We want to preserve and pass on la cultura — even if it’s just through a simple gift t-shirt or onesie.
Little did I know that I was a marketers case study in a trend called “retro-acculturation.” And, as Oscar and I built Los Pollitos, there were marketers writing about this trend in acculturated, U.S. dominanant, English-speaking, bilingual Hispanics reaching backwards to preserve tradition.
From Portada Online:
“Retro-acculturation,” as defined in Marketing to American Latinos by M. Isabel Valdés, refers to the “conscious search for ethnic identity or roots, especially by second-, third-, or fourth-generation Hispanic Americans who have lost some or most of their cultural traits.”
There isn’t a lot current on the trend. Most of the stuff I found online is a few years old, but here are a couple more links: A report by Phoenix Multicultural Marketing, with great data and info and this post on Hispanic Trending by Sylvia Nieto-Vidal.
Many bilingual or Hispanics that are considered acculturated…those who live their lives in English, watch English-language television and for the most part are very similar to the general market consumers…go through an interesting metamorphosis when they begin to have their own families. When this segment of the Hispanic population has children they begin to exhibit a strong yearning to pass on their Hispanic heritage to their offspring. Their desire to pass on cultural traditions, Spanish-language and music sees a resurgence.
I just learned this term a week or so ago while watching the webstream of a conference on “Marketing to Latinas.” It was sponsored by Latin Vision Media, Inc. It really struck me.
You see, I went through a teen phase where I didn’t want to speak Spanish, I dreamed of living in a Victorian house full of antiques and surrounded by white picket fences and Volvo station wagons. I did not care if I ever ate lechon again and hell, I don’t watch telenovelas and I can’t salsa dance anyway, so may as well go all gringa.
And then I moved to places where my culture did not surround me. And I missed it. I grew up a little more and gave birth to a child whom I realized would not experience the tight embraces of eight tias in a row, or Sundays at the beach with her primos, or quinces and bocaditos.
And, it killed me.
And so, I reach back. I search for products that tingle my memory (dulce leche, Violetas perfume). I buy art for my home that offers connection to my culture. When I see a product in a store that is written in Spanish I always stop and look (A blog post on this is coming….). I buy music and books for myself and my daughter about Hispanic culture. I search for blogs and websites that inform and entertain me in Spanglish, or at least with Latin flair.
I write Bilingual in the Boonies for the same reason…though hang in there with me while I take a little time off here this summer to hang with my nena more.
It’s also why Oscar and I created Chichi & Flaco for adults and why I co-launched the Tiki Tiki Blog, where we share the stories and videos of what it is like to grow up and live Latino in the United States. Based on the reader survey we did, it’s the major reason why la gente keep coming back — “for a taste of culture” was the most popular answer readers gave for reading the Tiki Tiki.
And, we’ve long loved that Latinos, born and raised here, buy Los Pollitos for their children, often because it’s the lullaby their mami or abuela sung to them and they want that feeling, that connection, for their own children. It’s an instant hit of nostalgia.
So, why am I writing about this? I guess, I am just a little too fascinated by demographics and studies and cultural trends. And, I wonder if you see yourself as retroacculturated?
So, que dicen?
And finally, here are some links to blogs and sites I think are so very retroacculturated Latino-flavored.
Spanglishbaby, for raising a bilingual baby
Guanabee, funny, smart, pop culture, news, mujer stuff.
ModernFamilia, family empowerment from a Latina therapist.
Mi Blog Es Tu Blog, smart observations on marketing to Latinos in the U.S.