Growing influence of Hispanic consumers
They're wielding increasing power over non-Hispanics
October 15, 2012
It is not news that the number of Hispanics in the United States is growing at breakneck speed. But what is news is that those Hispanics are wielding increasing influence over non-Hispanic counterparts who live in Hispanic-dense areas, according to a new study from WPP Hispanic advertising agency Wing and researcher Experian Simmons, which finds that these non-Hispanics are also much more receptive to advertising. This group is two and a half times more likely to pay attention to movie theater advertising and are twice as likely to use their cell phones and the internet for information and entertainment. They consume more Hispanic products, including food, music and sports, than the average non-Hispanic. The study points out that this has major implications for how campaigns are targeted. For years many advertisers have separately targeted Hispanics and non-Hispanics. But that may become less important as the two cultures meld. Holly McGavock, director of planning at Wing and Dr. Max Kilger, chief behavioral scientist at Experian Simmons.
What did you find most surprising or most interesting about this study?
Kilger : One thing we found especially interesting is that non-Hispanics who are influenced by Hispanic culture also show signs of being more receptive to advertising – something that we normally see more incidence of in Hispanic populations.
This may be a consequence of the fact that we know from our data that people interested in other cultures are more advertising receptive than those that are not. So it might be the case that non-Hispanics who are more likely to be receptive to Hispanic culture might also by nature be more receptive to advertising.
It’s a really fascinating topic that is a bit more complex than it seems as the surface.
What's the most important thing media buyers and planners can take from it?
Kilger: Cultural diffusion suggests that when living in close proximity, many non-Hispanics are likely to adopt certain elements of Hispanic culture and that this means that advertisers should perhaps rethink their traditional strategies of developing one type of campaign strategy and deployment for Hispanics and another for non-Hispanics.
So for example, an agency might build a more Hispanic-oriented campaign, but also buy advertising in media spaces where there are significant segments of non-Hispanics, especially where these non-Hispanics may be likely to live in high density Hispanic areas.
Are Hispanics influencing non-Hispanics more than in the past? Why?
McGavock: We don’t have data to support this, but our hypothesis is that yes, Hispanics are influencing non-Hispanics more than in the past. This is probably partially due to the fact that Hispanics as a population are growing–one out of six people in the U.S. today is Hispanic–so non-Hispanics naturally have more contact with Hispanics than in the past, and a culture diffusion, as Max describes, is only natural.
Just as important, however, is the fact that Hispanic culture is much more prominent in mainstream media, and that really, through digital media, you have access to just about any culture anytime you want.
What implication does this have for advertisers?
Kilger: That they might want to rethink their traditional perspective towards non-Hispanics and encourage their agencies to insert Hispanic themes into some of their non-Hispanic campaign strategies.
McGavock: It also has implications for how general market and Hispanic agencies work together. By working together from the beginning to identify important insights and themes, we can create advertising that effectively reaches both markets, and leverages those areas of Hispanic influence.
Where in pop culture are you seeing the influence of Hispanics the most? Why?
Kilger: Entertainment is one area where we see strong Hispanic influence on non-Hispanics, for example with the gains in popularity of salsa and meringue music among non-Hispanics.
Also, the initial success of Hispanic television formats like telenovelas – "Betty La Fea" is a good example – among non-Hispanic audiences suggest that pop culture is a good transmission medium for cultural diffusion.
Do non-Hispanics have a greater understanding of Hispanic culture and habits than they did, say, 10 years ago?
Kilger: I am pretty sure that the answer to this is yes, there are a growing percentage of non-Hispanics that are living in high density Hispanic areas and thus non-Hispanics have exposure to Hispanic culture and the opportunity to adopt some of their cultural elements.
McGavock: I have a personal anecdotal example of this. My sister, who’s 10 years old and not at all Hispanic, lives in Atlanta, where my dad is a homebuilder and works with a lot of Hispanics. Through work, he’s developed friendships with a lot of these Hispanics, and he and my sister have been invited to a few quinceañeras. My sister now insists that she wants to have a quinceañera too.
Why is it important for media people to keep abreast of developments like this in the pop culture world?
Kilger: We expect this trend of non-Hispanics adopting elements of Hispanic culture to continue and even increase in the coming years as the proportion of the population that is Hispanic increases and the number of non-Hispanics who live in high density Hispanic areas begins to grow as well.
Also, as elements of Hispanic culture, especially in music and entertainment, continue to gain larger foothold on major media channels, this exposure to Hispanic culture is likely to encourage cultural diffusion and adoption of some cultural attitudes and elements of Hispanic culture by non-Hispanics.
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