Self-Defined Hispanic Ethnic Groups Show Marked Differences

Marketers who are still lumping Hispanics into a single category--or even attempting to apply traditional segmentation strategies to this fastest-growing-of-all U.S. population groups--may very well be missing important opportunities.

When Hispanics are asked to define themselves by racial/ethnic subgroups, the differences in income, purchasing intentions, brand preferences and media consumption are "a lot bigger than many might imagine and potentially quite significant for marketers," sums up Joe Pilotta, vice president/strategy for BIGresearch.

BIG put special focus on Hispanics within its latest Simultaneous Media Survey (SIMM), in partnership with Televisa Publishing, and the results reveal some interesting insights about the diversity of the Hispanic community.

Looking first at Hispanics as a group, the adult (18 or older) Hispanic population has an average age of 36.5 and average income of $51,918, according to the cross-tabbed research within this SIMM, one of two SIMMs conducted annually by BIG on more than 15,000 consumers.



Also, more Hispanic adults than adults as a whole (across ethnic groups) report that they intend to purchase big-ticket items within the next six months. Nearly a third (32.3%) of Hispanics intend to invest in a vacation (versus 28% of the general adult population), 22.4% in a computer (versus 15.6%), 21.6% in furniture (versus 15.3%), 21.4% in a TV (versus 13.9%), 14.1% in home improvement (versus 13.6%), and 15.8% in a car/truck (versus 11.9%).

These data alone may point to more spending power and more spending disposition among Hispanics than is often assumed by marketers, Pilotta notes. "Advertisers who have the courage to spend more in the Hispanic market might experience bigger returns than expected," he says.

Moreover, drilling down reveals distinct characteristics and consumer propensities among the 44.2% of Hispanics who identify themselves as Hispanic/Caucasian, versus those who identify themselves as Hispanic/other race or heritage (34.6%) or Hispanic/multiracial (16%).

A capsule of some of the differences in subgroup demographics and purchasing intentions:

  • Hispanics/Caucasians skew both older and wealthier, with an average age of 40.8 and average income of $57,748. The average ages/incomes for Hispanic/other and Hispanic/multiracial are, respectively, 34 and 33, and $47,873 and $50,139.
  • Hispanic/Caucasians are slightly more inclined than other Hispanic subgroups to purchase a vacation in the next six months (33.3%, versus 32.7% for Hispanic/other and 29.9% for Hispanic/multiracial). However, somewhat smaller percentages of Hispanic/Caucasians, compared to the other two subgroups, report that they intend to buy the other big-ticket items.
  • About 18% of multiracial Hispanics, 16% of other-heritage Hispanics and 14% of Hispanic Caucasians say they will buy a car or truck in the next six months. The top three vehicle brands being considered (in order) vary by subgroup: Multiracials cite Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota; other-heritage Hispanics cite Toyota, Honda and BMW; and Hispanic/Caucasians cite Toyota, Honda and Ford.

Among the nearly 12% of the general adult population planning to buy cars or trucks, the top three brands being considered are Toyota, Ford and Honda.

  • In addition to cars/trucks, multiracial Hispanics are more inclined to buy the following in upcoming months: computers (27.1%, versus 22.2% for other/Hispanic and 20.8% for Hispanic/Caucasian); TVs (25.2%, versus 22.8% for other, 19.2% for Caucasian) and home improvement items/services (15.9%, versus 14.1% for Caucasian, 12.6% for other).
  • Hispanics of other race/heritage are most inclined to purchase furniture in the coming months (23.7%, versus 21.3% for multiracial and 18.3% for Caucasian).

In regard to media consumption, Hispanics differ both within the subgroups and as compared to adults as a whole.

Some highlights:

  • Among adult Hispanics overall, magazines read most often are Cosmopolitan (11.8%), Vanidades (7.3%) and TV y Novelas (6.6%). Among all adults, the favorites are People (3.8%), Cosmopolitan (3.2%) and Reader's Digest (2.6%).
  • Cosmo is also the leading magazine among each of the Hispanic subgroups, cited by 8.2% of Hispanic/Caucasians, 16% of Hispanic/multiracials and 11.4% of Hispanic/other heritage.
  • TV y Novelas comes in second among the multiracial (6.1%) and Hispanic/other (8.5%) groups, while Vanidades is No. 2 among Hispanic Caucasians (8.2%). Vanidades is No. 3 among the multiracial (5.4%) and other (6.1%) groups, but People holds that spot among Hispanic Caucasians (5.3%).
  • Looking at radio formats, Latin/Hispanic is the top choice of Hispanics as a whole (50.6%), and each of the subgroups (other-heritage, 61.2%; multiracial, 43.1%; Caucasian, 41.6%). Rock holds second place among Hispanics overall (32.6%) and among the multiracial and Caucasian groups (40.3% and 33.4%, respectively). However, hip-hop is second among the Hispanic/other group (35.8%).
  • Top 40/pop formats are No. 3 among Hispanics overall (29.7%), and among the multiracial (34.1%) and Caucasian (29.6%) groups. But R&B commands third place among the Hispanic/other group (34.2%).
  • In contrast, among adults as a whole, rock rules (35.3%), followed by oldies (31.6%) and country (24.7%).

The differences among the three Hispanic subgroups clearly point not only to differing cultural identities, but to the importance of age and income as markers of social mobility, emphasizes Pilotta.

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