Marketers looking to reach the growing Hispanic community in the United States may want to emphasize their mobile programs. According to new information from Scarborough Research, cell phone usage among the Hispanic population is increasing at a faster rate than it is among the general population.

According to the research, Hispanic cell phone usage increased 25% since 2005, compared with 18% for all adults in the U.S. With nearly exact usage rates among adults (84% of total adults use cell phones, compared with 82% of Hispanic adults), the research suggests not only that the usage rates are increasing among Hispanics, but that they may have reached a saturation point among the general population.

“[Hispanics] are the opportunity market,” Alisa Joseph, vice president of advertiser and marketing services for Scarborough Research, tells Marketing Daily. “This is really the ideal niche way to reach the Hispanic market.”

Smartphone adoption is also increasing among the Hispanic population. Currently, 19% of Hispanic adults live in a household that owns at least one smartphone, compared with 5% in 2005. That growth rate is on par with the general population; 23% of the general population owns smartphones, compared with 9% in 2007, according to Scarborough.

Hispanics are also more likely to use their devices for other purposes than simply talking on the phone. They text at greater rates than the general market (64% vs. 56%), download music at greater rates (22% vs. 15%), play games more often (19% vs. 15%) and access social networks more often (12% vs. 10%).

“The rise of smartphones and apps is redefining mobile marketing,” Joseph says. “As this industry continues its rapid evolution, the importance of Hispanics as mobile marketing targets will only continue to expand.”

Scarborough’s research hews closely to that conducted by Hispanic marketing agency San Jose Group, which found that Hispanics spend more hours per week on social networks than the general population (2.4 vs. 1.7), blogging (1 vs. 0.7) and more time accessing the Internet through their mobile phones (1.1 vs. 0.4).

“Retailers have the opportunity to intertwine disciplines to effectively engage these consumers and transform them into brand ambassadors,” said agency president George L. San Jose, in a statement. “It is essential for them to incorporate interactive content that can naturally be implemented and executed in their day-to-day social life.”

SOURCE MediaPost/Aaron Barr

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