It is not unusual -- to put it mildly -- to see Hispanic-market advertising focused on families and moms. But Chicago-based global market research firm Mintel says that doesn't reflect the Latina population in the U.S., either demographically or culturally.
Leylha Ahuile, Mintel's senior analyst of multicultural reports, said in a Web presentation on Wednesday that Hispanic women are more sophisticated, English-dominant, bi-cultural and also retro-cultural than they have ever been. And they are also much more likely to respond to marketers who understand them and speak to them as Latinas.
Ahuile said there are 23.6 million Latinas in the U.S. now, which will increase to around 24.5 million by 2014. There are also more U.S.-born Latinas than non-Latina, and that trend will increase with a tightening immigration policy.
Almost half are not married. Latinas spend more time on social media than non-Latinas, they are younger than non-Latinas, and a majority are under 45 years of age. A full 52% is yet to enter their peak earning years. "So their purchasing power is on the rise," she said, pointing out that with Hispanics constituting 25% of children being born in the U.S., most Latinas are now between 5 and 14. "So children's' products are important."
"Most advertising to Latinas depicts them as married with two children. But the majority are unmarried, and the educational attainment of Latinas is higher than that of Latinos," said Ahuile. "That means she will have a higher-paying job and discretionary income."
Between 1997 and 2006, the number of Latinas earning bachelors degrees increased by 222%; that of Latinas earning masters degrees increased by 307%. "Advertising messages need to speak to this more sophisticated consumer," said Ahuile, who added that the notion that all Latinas like spending time with family is a myth. "Foreign-born actually want to spend even less," she said.
As for products, Latinas over-index with beauty and personal care products, which, per Ahuile, represent power and upward mobility. Latinas with household income of between $50,000 and $75,000 have the highest rate of makeup usage. And Hispanics don't consume less makeup when they get older, as is the case with other ethnic groups. "Those between 50 and 60 actually use more," she said. "But are beauty advertisers targeting older Latinas?"
Media consumption among Latinas reflects, paradoxically, acculturation and "retroculturation," or a desire to connect with one's heritage.
"When it comes to consumption of print, we see an increase in preference for English-language media and decrease in Spanish," said Ahuile, "but we need to keep in mind that most consume print in both English and Spanish." She says the preference will tip toward English as U.S. Hispanic births continue to outpace immigration.
Ahuile said that when it comes to language preferred for TV it's a slightly different story with one-third watching English-language TV and some Spanish, reflecting the popularity of telenovelas.
Per Mintel, Latinas spend more hours per week in about every type of Internet activity except online games. "They spend an hour more per week on social networking than non-Latinas," said Ahuile, who added that they are also much more likely to access the Internet on mobile.