Adios: Nielsen Finds Hispanic Brand Loyalty Declining

Some of the most appealing characteristics of Hispanic consumers may be more transitory than marketers think. Take the notion of brand loyalty, where Hispanics supposedly show more long-term affinity for brands than their mainstream "Anglo" counterparts. New data from Nielsen Homescan's Hispanic market research suggests that brand loyalty among Hispanics drops, depending on their degree of acculturation, as measured by language of preference.

For example, only 33% of English-preference Hispanic households purchased a particular cola to the exclusion of others, versus 70% for Spanish-preference households. And this trend is broadly reflected across a variety of categories in food and packaged-goods, including laundry detergent, cereal, toothpaste and beer.

The Nielsen findings add depth to a number of studies investigating the broad aspects of the acculturation process among Hispanic immigrant communities in the first, second, and third generations. Language of preference is a common measure of acculturation: while 73% of Hispanic immigrants favor Spanish, only 25% of their children do, and that number falls to 15% by the second generation.



Timing the release to coincide with National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Nielsen study paints a revealing portrait of Hispanic consumption habits in the United States. In the area of telecommunications, Scarborough Research, a service of Nielsen, found that Hispanics--regardless of language preference--were 95% more likely than the average consumer to have spent $100 on long distance in the last month.

Likewise, they are 18% more likely to rack up a $150 cell phone bill. Nielsen attributes these trends to the desire to stay connected with friends and family in their countries of origin.

Overall immigration from the Spanish-speaking countries of the Western hemisphere, led by Mexico, is creating America's largest demographic shift since the early 20th century. In 2005, it topped 42 million or 14.4 percent of the population. And well over one-third of the country's Hispanic population--about 16 million people--are immigrants. Combined, native-born and immigrant Hispanic-Americans now outnumber the 34.3 million Americans who claim Irish descent--and are poised to surpass the nation's biggest ethnic group, German-Americans, who number about 45 million.

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