Expect tech-savvy Hispanic buyers

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Hispanic adults in the United States are just as likely and, in some cases more likely, to use technology as are non-Hispanic adults.

That was a key finding from Baltimore, MD-based Vertis Communications' "Customer Focus Opiniones" study, which revealed that that 33 percent of Hispanics plan to use text messaging in the next 12 months, compared to 26 percent of non-Hispanic adults.

"Not only are Hispanics comfortable using digital communication on a daily basis, but they're also just as likely to continue reading and responding to traditional direct mail advertising," Jim Litwin, vice president of market insights at Vertis, said in a statement.

"Consequently, it is critical for marketers to investigate Hispanic trends and implement a multichannel approach via online, direct or mobile marketing when targeting the strong buying power of the Hispanic population."

The study also found that Hispanics and non-Hispanics hold the same comfort levels when it comes to providing credit card information online. For example, while making a purchase or opening an account, 34 percent of Hispanics indicate they are somewhat or very comfortable revealing financial information online, in line with 35 percent of non-Hispanics.

The study also revealed that Hispanics turn to online communication after reading direct mail, with 31 percent of Hispanics visiting the sender's Web site when responding to direct mail received in the past month, compared to just 20 percent of non-Hispanic adults.

While Hispanics may show solid comfort levels with digital technology, Vertis' results also found that 54 percent of Hispanic households that speak only Spanish outside the home do not have access to the Internet, compared to just 4 percent of Hispanic households that speak English outside the home.

Based on this lack of at-home Internet access among Spanish-speaking Hispanics, Vertis' Opiniones study also investigated Hispanics' response rates to retail direct mail, finding 88 percent of first- or second-generation Hispanics read direct mail from discount stores, while 81 percent of third- or fourth-generation Hispanics read grocery store direct mail.

Further, 75 percent of Spanish-speaking households that speak English outside the home read direct mail from traditional department stores, compared to 66 percent of English-speaking households.

Customer Focus is Vertis' proprietary annual study tracking consumer behavior across a wide variety of industry segments - financial, credit cards, insurance, retail, automotive - and media such as direct mail marketing.

The Vertis Communications Customer Focus Opiniones study, also revealed other behavior.

First, direct mail messages regarding a sweepstakes, game or contest are least effective among both Mexican and non-Mexican Hispanics, with 13 percent and 18 percent, respectively, indicating response to such offers in the past 30 days.

Second, 40 percent of third- or fourth-generation Hispanics are either somewhat or very comfortable providing credit card information over the Web; this number drops to 29 percent among first-, second- and fifth-generation Hispanics.

Third, Hispanics of South American heritage are most likely to read e-mail advertising based on needs, organizations they are familiar with, or products they want or need, according to 49 percent of respondents.

Also, first- or second-generation Hispanics are most likely to read e-mail advertising based on their needs, said 16 percent of Hispanic adults surveyed.

Fifth, 80 percent of Hispanics of Mexican heritage did not plan on using instant messaging, blogging or chat rooms in the next 12 hours.

Finally, 24 percent of English-speaking Hispanic households plan to use instant messaging/blogging or chatrooms in the next 12 hours.

Customer Focus Opiniones surveyed 500 Hispanic adults via phone by a field research company in August and September and measures both general and industry-specific shopping trends.

Vertis provides the data as a value-added service to its clients.

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