Digging Deeper to Understand the Hispanic Mobile Opportunity
December 1st, 2011
Posted by Jose Villa
Use of cell phones is second nature among U.S. Hispanics in the U.S; it seems to build upon this group’s cultural affinity for close connections. I would even venture to say that for many Hispanics, across age groups and acculturation levels, mobile
is the first (and often the only) way they experience the Web; from recent immigrants to young 2nd or 3rd generation U.S. born Hispanics, the mobile Web IS the Internet. Considering that Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic group in the U.S., and that their purchasing power
is expected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2015 (source: Packaged Facts, 2010), understanding how to reach them via mobile devices will increasingly define which brands will able connect with this coveted group, and how they will engage them successfully.
Everyone knows that Hispanics are heavy mobile users, but…
We have all seen multiple charts and statistics that show that Hispanics are at the forefront of mobile device adoption and usage. We are aware that they have the highest penetration for mobile phones (eMarketer, 2011), that they over-index on smartphone adoption (Nielsen, 2011), and that they are more likely (vs. the general market) to use their mobile device to download music, play games, and access social networking sites (Scarborough, 2010). Unfortunately, most of the research out there regarding Hispanics and mobile technology focuses on basic penetration and usage data.
While this is great for establishing that an opportunity exists to reach Hispanics via mobile, it does little to provide actionable insights to help marketers leverage this channel to integrate mobile to their marketing mix in order to connect with this segment. So the question remains: how should a CPG brand target Hispanics via mobile? How should a major retailer take advantage of the millions of Hispanic customers with smartphones in hand that enter their stores daily? Other than making sure your existing Hispanic (digital) marketing is mobile-friendly, there is very little to go on.
The reality is that more and deeper data is needed. We would all benefit from insightful, well-conducted field qualitative research, which would provide a better understanding of U.S. Hispanic mobile users’ needs (in terms of information and interaction), as well as of the underlying psychographics.
A good place to start: In-store retail
At any given moment, 45% of Hispanic shoppers at any retail location have their smartphone with them (Nielsen, 2011). A good place to start learning more would be to explore in-store mobile engagement. More specifically, identify opportunities for retailers to connect with Hispanic shoppers through innovative, mobile-driven experiences in stores. Considering the fact that Hispanics’ discretionary spending surpassed $129 billion in 2010 (Experian Simmons, 2011), and that 7 of the top 50 Hispanic advertisers are big box retailers (AdAge Hispanic Fact Pack, 2011), it appears that it would be highly rewarding to better understanding how to engage Hispanic consumers in retail environments.
For example, language aside, what specific opportunities exist for creating an in-store mobile engagement strategy that appropriately reflects the norms and cultural priorities of Hispanic populations? What are the relevant differences between Hispanics and non-Hispanics in their use of smartphones (for shopping purposes) that shed light on their different in-store mobile experiences?
Do differences in ethnicity play any significant role in shaping in-store mobile experiences, or are the commonalities greater than the differences (i.e., Mexican-American vs. Puerto-Rican)?What are new ways to leverage in-store mobile engagement that will have special appeal to Hispanic shoppers?
Conversely, what are the risks in creating an in-store mobile strategy that fails to account for these norms and priorities? Are there any ways, apart from language, in which Hispanics find in-store mobile experiences designed for non-Hispanic audiences deficient?
These are all great initial questions for big box retailers and marketers alike to ask. Nonetheless, looking at in-store mobile engagement opportunities is just the beginning. There is no doubt there are countless opportunities to better understand Hispanic consumers in the context of their advanced use of mobile technology, and to create tailored user experiences that result in loyal customers with a high lifetime value.
(an edited version of this article originally ran on MediaPost’s Engage Hispanic blog on 12/1/2011)
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