We Shop Together: How Hispanic Collectivism Affects Online Buys

Hispanic consumers represent 20% of the U.S. population and $2 trillion in purchasing power. Brands looking to diversify their customer bases have a tremendous opportunity with this demographic. Still, many falter in execution by failing to realize and respect Hispanic cultural dynamics, which are broadly defined by collectivism.

Traditional U.S. Hispanic households are often multigenerational, meaning first, second, and third-generation Hispanics live together under the same roof. Spanish Language First (SLF) family members rely on English Language First (ELF) members to interpret the American ethos, including online shopping.

These “guides” wield tremendous influence over purchasing decisions made by their SLF loved ones. They assist with online searches, translate English-only search results, evaluate product and service options, and explain the technology. As ELFs help SFLs navigate the path to purchase, they do so through a personal lens, interjecting their preferences and biases.

But this halo of influence extends outside of the home. Hispanics, in general, are more likely to shop collectively. While conventional wisdom suggests this “halo” effect is driven primarily by the Spanish-dominant or unacculturated Hispanics, research suggests this is not the case. We’ve found that bilingual/bicultural consumers are directionally driving this trend, especially among younger cohorts. As these consumers mature, so does their sphere of influence as they cultivate both Hispanic and American friendships.

A recent study aimed to validate hypotheses that certain product/service categories and price points drive more collective purchasing behavior than others, and that positive brand experiences drive advocacy.

We found that Hispanics across acculturation levels assist members of the collective at home and outside of their home in purchasing products and services across different price ranges.

The top six categories with collective online activity are technology, food/grocery/vms (vitamins, minerals, and other supplements), medical services, entertainment, financial services, and appliances.

ELFs are more likely than SLFs to assist with technology, medical services, and financial services searches – which makes sense, since these categories tend to have complicated terminology. SLFs, on the other hand, are more likely to assist with food/grocery/VMS, entertainment and appliance searches. This speaks to the role food plays in the collectivist Hispanic culture, marked by large family gatherings around traditional foods.

When analyzing the price points where Hispanic consumers act more collectively, we see the most activity between the $50 --$500 range.

And when Hispanics have positive experiences with brands in these categories, they share it online and in-person. All Hispanics surveyed were most likely to “like” a brand on a social network if they’ve had a positive experience. Among EFL, the percentage is highest among Gen Xers, followed closely by Gen Z. EFLs are also more likely than SLFs to take an exit survey, rate the site or customer service, and share feedback via word of mouth.

Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are the top three social networks among all Hispanics, but we see a variance when comparing ELF and SLF preferences. The most noticeable difference is with users of WhatsApp, which skews favorably toward SLF. ELFs are almost twice as likely to engage with Snapchat than SLF.

Essential to successfully penetrating this market is advertising to them in-language and in-culture. Develop a bilingual search strategy and offer a Spanish translation, or at the very least, a good translation app for when they land on your website. As marketers, it’s our responsibility to make the Hispanic path to purchase as smooth as possible by reducing the friction points along the way.

2 comments about "We Shop Together: How Hispanic Collectivism Affects Online Buys".
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  1. R. M. from self, January 13, 2021 at 4:09 p.m.

    Are you talking about Mexican, Cuban, Latin American influence from broader family?

    "as they cultivate both Hispanic and American friendships."

    Or are you meaning Hispanic American and non-Hispanic American?

    Generalities are well know... would love to see more technical research data, on how Covid19 has affected the "group shopping" trips... esp incities with  lock downs where it is advised that 1 family member be the outside the home shopper.

  2. Mario Carrasco from ThinkNow, January 13, 2021 at 5:09 p.m.

    Yes, I mean that. The first sentence in the article frames the article as one regarding Hispanic Americans. 

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