For Hispanics, think beyond language
Second- and third-generations are far less influenced
July 18, 2007
When it comes to reaching Hispanics, using Spanish-language advertising might seem like a no-brainer. But according to a new study from Simmons Research, a New York-based tracker of consumer behavior, that’s not necessarily the case. While first-generation Hispanics prefer Spanish-language advertising because it’s easier to understand, second- and especially third-generation Hispanics are somewhat indifferent to it. Just 6 percent of third-generation and 16 percent of second-generation respondents agreed with the statement When I hear a company advertise in Spanish, it makes me feel like they respect my heritage and want my business, compared with 49 percent of first-generation respondents. And while more than half of first-generation respondents said they’d be more loyal to brands that advertise in Spanish, just 33 percent of second-generation and 22 percent of third-generation respondents agreed. The study also found that first-, second- and third-generation respondents’ opinions varied on technology and technology adoption, too. Dr. Max Kilger, chief behavioral scientist at Simmons, talks to Media Life about Spanish-language advertising, acculturation and online radio listening.
There’s a huge difference between first and second/third generation Hispanics when it comes to Spanish-language advertising. Why is that, and has it changed over the years?
What you’ll see is acculturation levels, both from the standpoint of Hispanics beings acculturated to host country and also acculturated to their country of origin.
If you look at that, what’s interesting is that you start out with not so high advertising receptivity if you’re low on the acculturation scale. As you become cultured, ad receptivity goes way up. It goes up and up and up as your acculturation goes up, but then at some point it plateaus and starts to go back down.
Why are third-generation Hispanics so uninterested in Spanish-language advertising?
Well, it’s partly what I mentioned before, but another component is Hispanics are learning English and learning culture in the U.S, and to do so, in part they’re looking at advertising. As they get to the top [level of ad receptivity] and go back down, then they begin to take on that advertising-is-blasÃ© attitude.
But third-generation folks also are going to be more integrated, so they’re less dependent on Spanish labeling and advertising, and so they’re probably going to be less receptive as well.
Although the one caveat I’ll add is that often, especially with Hispanics who integrate both cultures, they’ll tend to have positive nostalgic feelings about Hispanic culture, so it’s not a straightforward thing, it’s more complex.
Is there any case where advertisers should actually avoid Spanish-language advertising?
No, I don’t think so.
I think that my approach would be to use both channels, you’ll catch those who are integrated, catch those who are settled in their country of origin, and also those who are integrated but still have a close tie to Spanish culture.
So I think it’s a good move to use both languages.
What did you find most interesting or most surprising about this study?
One of the things I found interesting was that Hispanics who are gaining internet access for the first time head straight for high-speed. A significant number are bypassing dial-up altogether.
I think part of it is sort of ecological, that is high-speed is available in a lot of places and connected to services Hispanics might already have, like cable.
What are the biggest differences between first-, second- and third-generation Hispanics when it comes to technology?
Just in terms of adopting new technology and taking it for granted, second- and third-generation Hispanics are basically more comfortable. They’re more on the front end of the technology curve than the first-generation folks. That’s something you’d expect.
Do third-generation Hispanics feel less pressure to keep up with technological developments than first- or second-generation, since they’re more assimilated?
Well, that’s a good question. You could flip it either way, I see it both ways.
I think the first-generation folks are more likely to ask friends for advice about technology. But the data also suggests first-generation people are trying to keep up. I think the type of pressure is what’s more important.
First-generation Hispanics probably feel pressure in terms of more of a necessity, in terms of getting products and services that they need, whereas third-generation people may feel pressure, but more socially, pressure to keep up with peers and friends.
So I think it’s more of a peer pressure in third-generation and more sort of an organizational pressure for first-generation people.
Are there major differences between Hispanics’ and non-Hispanics’ attitudes toward technology?
There are on trivial differences, yes.
For example, Hispanics are 20 percent more likely than non-Hispanics to strongly agree with the statement, I spend less time sleeping because of the internet.
Another, even better one, Hispanics are 51 percent more likely than non-Hispanics to agree with the statement, The internet is a new way to socialize or meet others. Hispanics are 47 percent more likely than non-Hispanics to agree a lot with the statement, The internet is their main source of family entertainment.
And they’re 28 percent more likely than non-Hispanics to agree with, I listen less to non-internet radio because I listen to radio online. They seem to have more of a passion for online radio than non-Hispanics, or at least they’re migrating at a faster rate.
That makes a lot of sense. If you’re listening to the radio, you’re restricted to the geographic area of the signal. But online I could listen to a radio station in Mexico City or Buenos Aires.
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