The Rise of the Hispanic Mobile Consumer – Dan Hodges

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The Rise

The Hispanic market is the fastest growth segment in the U.S. economy by many measures. The rise of the Hispanic mobile consumer is one of the most overlooked trends in marketing today. How do you harness the power of the Hispanic mobile consumer to drive growth for your brand?

The Pew Internet & American Life Study shows that 73% of Hispanics were texting on their mobile phones in 2007. Today, 92% of Hispanics own mobile phones, representing the fastest and largest growth for any ethnic group in America. The U.S. Hispanic population is one of the most promising growth sectors for marketers. Currently, Hispanics represent 52 million consumers in the U.S. (expected to grow by 167% by 2050) and have the buying power of $1.2 trillion annually.*

The Hispanic population is comprised of many cultures. There are subtleties among each group that marketers need to understand to create effective mobile marketing programs. While the tools and technologies to target Hispanic consumers on their mobile phones are already in place, effective messaging combines both culture and context.

The Transition to Smartphones

Several factors have accelerated the rapid adoption of smartphones by Hispanics. In 2007, Hispanics were ahead of the general population in mobile phones usage, including messaging and gaming. At the same time, there were two markets for Hispanic mobile users: acculturated Hispanics who traded in their feature phones for smartphones, and unacculturated Hispanics who continued to use their feature phones. The acculturated Latinos use their smartphone to enhance their lives. They use smartphones for shopping, banking, staying fit and to stay competitive and are the most upscale and educated segment.

In the last five years, economic distress, lower mobile price points and cultural factors have contributed to the rapid adoption of smartphones by all Hispanics. Unacculturated Hispanics have disconnected their landlines and broadband service, consolidating their communication needs with smartphones. The normal technology wave (from early adopter to laggards) typically takes place over a fifteen to twenty year period. This technological wave has occurred in just five years. Today, the typical Hispanic consumer watches more hours of videos online and on their mobile phones than the average American.**

Are marketers under-investing in the Hispanic mobile consumer, and if so, why are marketers sitting on the sidelines? The time to engage with the Hispanic mobile consumer is today.

Here are five guidelines to help get you started.

1. Define Clear Goals and Objectives to Win with Hispanics : Ask the how, what, when, where questions. Belying the obvious, one size does not fit all in the Hispanic market. Navigating the culture requires a deep understanding of the cultural clues required to be authentic and credible. English-dominated Latinos live in the English-speaking world, while English-speaking Latinos live in both the Spanish and English worlds. It is critical that messages are created with this understanding.

2. Culture Counts : Knowing who you are talking to and how to talk to them is key. It is important to tailor your message with a cultural filter. The marketing to Americans of Mexican descent is different from marketing to Americans from Cuba or Puerto Rico.

3. Hyper Local is Critical : The power and promise of hyper-local is here today. Use it! Reaching the community is essential for Latinos. The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the country has skyrocketed to 3.2 million, up from nearly 1.7 million in 2002.

4. Engage : Mobile is a snacking medium. Creating relevant unique messages matters most for Hispanics. They are heavy consumers of content and thus there is a need to created multiple variations and variety of creative executions.

5. Measure & Modify : Measuring time of day, day of week and medium and finding out what works best is always important. In the Latino market monitoring and measuring what content is resonating with the Latino community is key.

Mark Twain famously said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” This advice applies to today’s marketers who want to tap into the rise of the Hispanic mobile consumer.

Source: *U.S. Census Bureau, ** Nielsen

Dan Hodges is CEO and Founder, Consumers in Motion LLC. Dan can be reached atDan

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