If the NRF's prediction is correct, holiday sales this year will top out at $407.4 billion, with a strong portion of this spending coming from the pocketbooks of 44.3 million Hispanics, the largest minority population in the U.S. This year more than ever, Hispanics will play a key role in holiday shopping, as recent data illustrate their purchasing behaviors are typically less affected by economic downturns than non-Hispanics. According to the 2008 Vertis Customer Focus (VCF): Opiniones study, 48% of Hispanic-Americans plan to cut back on non-essentials and luxury spending in the coming year, compared to 52% of non-Hispanics who plan to do the same.
Further, with the holiday season rapidly approaching, a savvy marketer will not only examine the Hispanic market, but will also take a closer look at Hispanic-American parents. This demographic often paints a picture of ambiguity for retailers, although, with a little understanding of Hispanic parents and their spending habits, deals, discounts and products can be marketed accordingly.
To effectively target Hispanic parents this holiday season, let us first understand Hispanic households with children. According to the data, 20% of Hispanic households with children between the ages of 12-17 also include young adults 18-24, while only 9% of non-Hispanic households with children between the ages of 12-17 also include 18-24 year-olds. Additionally, more than 30% of Hispanic adults age 18-24 live with their younger siblings or are parents themselves.*
In addition, many Hispanic parents have additional children, and are either still in school, or working blue-collar, operative or clerical jobs. Among Hispanic parents with children ages 5 or younger, 24% are blue-collar or clerical workers, and 12% are students, compared to 19 and 5%, respectively, among non-Hispanic parents of children the same age.
Viva La Vida
Now that we understand today's Hispanic parents are mainly younger, blue-collar or clerical workers, we can begin to investigate their lifestyles, interests and more importantly, how they plan to spend their money.
According to the study, 46% of Hispanic parents with children between the ages of 6 and 11 indicated family and social activities were among their top three favorite leisure time activities, while only 37% of non-Hispanic parents with children the same age reported the same thing.
In addition to partaking in family and social activities, Hispanic parents are more likely than non-Hispanic parents to show interest in sports, computers, music, videos, and shopping, opening the door for deals oriented around these activities to be created for this Hispanic market. Vertis' study shows that 18% of Hispanic parents with children 5 years or younger claim music is one of their top three leisure activities, while only 9% of non-Hispanic families reported music being an activity of choice. In addition, eMarketer.com indicates that 54% of online Hispanics access music, compared to just 30% of non-Hispanics.
As they do with any moving target, marketers must work not only to understand Hispanic parents, but they must take aggressive action to catch these consumers' attention by distributing messages through the right media, at the right time, and with the proper emphasis on price and convenience.
Last November, Nielsen Online Research found that convenience (81%), not price (46%), drives holiday shopping. In addition, special deals and coupons are often more attractive to Hispanic shoppers, such as "buy one, get one free" offers, gift cards, and "gift with purchase" deals. Hispanic parents are young, hardworking (sometimes single) adults that value time with family. Although they love to shop, they - like many people - haven't enough time to do so. Therefore, during the holiday season marketers should use tactics that play up to convenience, which includes speed, and additional or bonus gifts to reach Hispanic parents.
It is also important to know where they intend on spending their money. According to the study, 28% of Hispanic parents with children ages 5 years old or younger plan on purchasing video gaming systems in the following year, while only 18% of similar non-Hispanics plan to do so. In addition, more Hispanic parents with children preteen to teenage plan on purchasing MP3 players (33% and 27%) than do similar non-Hispanic parents (23% and 19%). More Hispanic parents plan on spending money on electronics this year, and this is key for the holiday season.
Now let's take a look at some of the media that best capture the Hispanic parents' attention - a key factor to consider when laying out a marketing strategy.
Los Medios: Go Direct
According to the study, television is the most influential marketing medium across the board for both Hispanic and non-Hispanic parents with children of all ages. However, television advertising is often the most costly, and in an age where digital video recorders are in many households, TV advertising may not even be watched at all. Thus, the focus should shift to other more traditional forms of marketing.
For example, particularly for Hispanic parents of teens and pre-teens, our data show that direct mail is twice as effective as it is with non-Hispanic parents of children with the same age, 11% versus 6%, respectively. Additionally, during the past seven days, Hispanic parents with children ages 12-17 indicated they paid the most attention to direct mail advertising than non-Hispanic parents. Vertis' Customer Focus study also found that when ready to make a purchase, Hispanic parents with children 12-17 years old (12%) are more likely than their non-Hispanic counterparts (5%) to turn to direct mail to help them make a decision.
When it comes time to make a purchase, the Internet is the most influential tool for both Hispanic and non-Hispanic parents of children 5 years old or younger (26% and 30%), and children 12-17 years old (21% and 27%). However, marketers should recognize the need for additional tools. Online ad inserts and online coupons are popular and effective these days, as they prevent the need for "clipping coupons," regularly. Online promotions can also easily be circulated to friends and family, as seen with large brands such as Starbucks where email coupons seem to circulate almost daily.
It is also important to note that the data from the VCF study indicated that marketing for Hispanic parents should be done in English, as it was the primary language spoken in households with children ages 0-17 years.
By effectively implementing multi-channel marketing that: targets attractive lifestyle choices; is written in the language most spoken inside the home, and is disseminated through media that are both cost effective and influential, savvy marketers targeting the vast community of Hispanic parents can begin to make the most of their holiday marketing dollars.
* Editor's note: The paragraph was amended post-publication.