Hispanics, Tablets And The 'Mobile First' Imperative

One of the benefits of being in the advertising business is you sometimes get access to first-hand research – done on behalf of clients – into consumer mindsets and behavior that doesn’t always show up in published reports and syndicated research. For example, over the last 18 months, we have conducted numerous ethnographic interviews with U.S. Hispanics aimed at better understanding their digital behavior. One interesting, and somewhat unexpected trend emerged from our interviews: Hispanics, particularly older, less acculturated, and Spanish-dominant Hispanics, are increasingly using tablets.

This may not seem surprising. There is a great deal of published research indicating U.S. Hispanics are early adopters of new mobile devices and technology. A November 2010 Pew Hispanic report showed 7% of Hispanics owned tablets – more than whites or African-Americans. EMarketer released a June 2012 report projecting 24% of Hispanics will be using tablets by 2015, second only to Asians.  



However, when you break down most of this data, it shows much of the early adoption of mobile devices and increased tablet usage is occurring among younger and more acculturated Hispanics. The trend toward tablet usage we’ve been seeing is among a completely different segment of the Hispanic population.

What’s more interesting is why. Our research has uncovered two interrelated drivers:

  • Tablets are a cost-effective alternative to PCs for many Hispanics

  • Tablets are easier to learn to use than PCs, particularly for less technically savvy Hispanics

The first finding is consistent with research showing Hispanics increasingly opting for smartphones as lower-cost PC alternatives. The underlying insight is price sensitivity – a characteristic driver of many Hispanic purchasing decisions that has been a pillar of Hispanic marketing strategies for years.

The second finding indicates something much more significant about current and future Hispanic digital behavior. My theory is Hispanic use of tablets will rise significantly, likely increasing well beyond the 24% Hispanic tablet penetration projected by eMarketer for the next three years. The implications for Hispanic marketers, particularly in the digital space, are significant. 

This trend towards tablets requires a fundamental rethinking about how to interact and engage with Hispanic users digitally. Most Hispanic digital marketing efforts are PC-focused – emphasizing developing platforms and advertising creative designed for consumption on PC-based browsers. Moreover, most Hispanic digital media spend is going to placements such as display banners, rich media, and social media programs that assume a PC browser interface. 

What should Hispanic marketers, particularly those heavily focused on digital marketers, do? I suggest they need to shift their Hispanic digital strategies in both the short- and long-term.

Short-term: Adopt Responsive Design – Content will adjust to the device you are accessing it on.

Long-term: “Mobile First” – Moving forward, future content, websites, and advertising should be created first and foremost for mobile consumption.

1 comment about "Hispanics, Tablets And The 'Mobile First' Imperative ".
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  1. Jose Villa from Sensis, October 4, 2012 at 3:16 p.m.

    I encourage everyone to checkout an extended version of this post at my blog that goes into greater detail on this topic:

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