Digging Deeper To Understand The Hispanic Mobile Opportunity

Use of cell phones is second nature among U.S. Hispanics. It seems built 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. For recent immigrants to young second or third 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 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 connect with this coveted group, and how they engage them successfully.

Everyone knows that Hispanics are heavy mobile users, but…

We have all seen multiple charts and statistics showing Hispanics are at the forefront of mobile device adoption and usage. We are aware they have the highest penetration for mobile phones (eMarketer, 2011), they over-index on smartphone adoption (Nielsen, 2011), and 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 to connect with this segment. So the question remains: how should a consumer packaged good brand target Hispanics via mobile? How should a major retailer take advantage of the millions of Hispanic customers with smartphones in hand entering their stores daily? There is very little to go on, other than making sure your existing Hispanic (digital) marketing is mobile-friendly.

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 – for information and interaction – as well as the underlying psychographics.

A good place to start: In-store retail

At any given moment, 45 percent 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 Hispanics’ discretionary spending surpassed $129 billion in 2010 (Experian Simmons, 2011), and seven of the top 50 Hispanic advertisers are big box retailers (AdAge Hispanic Fact Pack, 2011), it appears it would be highly rewarding to better understand 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 – shedding 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 deficiencies – apart from language – Hispanics find with in-store mobile experiences designed for non-Hispanic audiences?

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 resulting in loyal customers with a high lifetime value.

SOURCE MediaPost