Behind the Numbers: Hispanics

On a nationally broadcast television event to a general audience, Procter & Gamble recently aired their first ever Spanish-language TV spot for a consumer product.

The P&G TV ad, shown in Spanish with no subtitles, is the firm's newest foray in marketing directly to Hispanics, now the largest minority group in the United States. Airing a Spanish-language ad on national network television is another indication that the face of America is evolving, and that leading advertisers are finding new ways to reach new and growing segments of the population.

"Behind The Numbers" looks at what factors play roles in the rapidly changing race and ethnic attitudes, behaviors and shopping habits that will inevitably shrink the white consumer's share of all U.S. consumer spending to 80 percent by 2007. And the largest bite of that dwindling share comes from Hispanics, with an estimated $926 billion in buying power in 2007, a full nine percent of the $7.9 trillion total consumer spending, as forecast by the Selig Center for Economic Growth.

The latest Census Bureau statistics show that the 37 million-member Hispanic population has now surpassed African-Americans as the nation's largest minority group, comprising 13 percent of the total U.S. population. To compare, the African-American population now stands at 36.2 million. While the total minority population increased by 88 percent between 1980 and 2000, the non-Hispanic white population grew by only 7.9 percent.

An analysis of shopping behavior and attitudes among Hispanics, jointly conducted by the Cultural Access Group and ACNielsen, revealed that in addition to there being unique behavior patterns among the different levels of acculturation (the integration of native cultural values with the dominant culture values), there are four distinct customer segments within the Hispanic demographic.

The "Economists" are the most acculturated of the segments and have the highest level of household income. However, they are not brand loyal, as they will purchase products "on special" every time. "Loyalists" are loyal to both brand and store. Loyalists have young-family households with many children, and prefer speaking Spanish. The report notes that Spanish newspaper and TV ads are very important to them and exert greater influence. Though 78 percent of U.S.-born Hispanics speak and prefer English, a full 97 percent of foreign-born Hispanics living in the U.S. prefer Spanish to English.

The "Price Hunter" segment will try new brands if they are on sale, and are heavily influenced by ads and promotions. These households typically have the youngest children of all the segments. "Traditionalists" are the least acculturated of all segments, with 65% being of Mexican descent. They buy the most groceries per week compared to other segments.

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