Commentary

The Latino M-Shopping Advantage

JLo-VerizonAt Wednesday’s OMMA Mobile at Internet Week event in New York Anheuser-Busch CMO Paul Chibe kicked us off with ten lessons that he and his team have learned over their long history of testing and investing in mobile. Number 8 was “Win Over Latino Customers.” Paul reiterated some stats that somehow are known to most in the industry but acted upon by too few -- including that Latino smartphone owners way over-index on data use. Why not grasp the obvious opportunity to be a first mover in an underserved audience? For the full ten lessons Paul offered at Wednesday’s show, check out the video of his excellent show opener.

There are further statistics out this week from The Integer Group and M/A/R/C Research that point to an even more powerful reason to target Latino mobile users. They are more evolved m-shoppers. According to The Integer Group, 16% of Hispanic mobile users are using their devices to make purchases, compared to only 12% in the general market of shoppers.

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In some sense this is to be expected. Latino users have always been more comfortable with the data channel, and there are many tech leapfroggers in this demo that skipped the PC altogether and use their mobile device as a primary digital connection.

This week Verizon made a move into the market by partnering with Jennifer Lopez on a new phone retail brand, Viva Movil, which will target devices and shopping experiences to the Hispanic community. 

But what also makes this m-shopping propensity interesting is how it segues into other shopping values for this demo. For instance, Latino shoppers put a higher value on the overall shopping experience than the general shopping population. Twenty-five percent says that having an enjoyable shopping experience was the most important thing, compared to 18% on average. Why is that good for mobile? First of all, marketers targeting this audience know that a well-tuned and pleasant mobile shopping experience targeting this audience should pay off handsomely.

In the study, Martin Ferro -- senior account planner for Velocidad, which focuses on the Hispanic retail and shopping experience in The Integer Group -- says: “It's not just about replicating general market strategies and making them bilingual -- it's taking those key elements that Hispanic shoppers seek and incorporating them into the shopper experience." These numbers may also mean there is an opportunity here for leveraging the phone in-store to enhance and enrich the offline shopping encounter at retail. 

I have never fully understood why more brands don’t embrace the digital opportunity with both African-American and Latino onliners. I started covering companies like BlackPlanet and MiGente in the early 2000s, and they were two social networks from the same company that pretty much foreshadowed the great social media revolution by a number of years. Their audiences were intensely engaged online and especially involved with any communications technology that helped them facilitate the deep traditional connections both groups have with extended family, often scattered across the U.S. The brands that were early in catering to this audience endeared themselves and garnered inordinate loyalty. 

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