The Hispanic population is the fastest-growing and youngest segment of the US population. As such, according to a new eMarketer report, “Hispanic Grocery Shoppers: The Digital Habits of a Highly Social Demographic,” Hispanics are a key target for growth among CPG brand marketers. Add to that, Hispanics do more grocery shopping than the average US shopper, according to an August 2012 survey from Acosta Sales & Marketing and Univision Communications. Once in-store, they spend 20% more during routine grocery shopping trips.

And as digital mavens, Hispanics bring their online savvy to their shopping as well.

“Food and the kitchen are central to Hispanic culture,” said Enedina Vega, vice president and publisher at Meredith Hispanic Ventures. “Our research showed that 75% of Hispanic families sit down for a meal together every day.”

One of the major differences between Hispanic shopping behavior and that of the general population is that Hispanics grocery shop with family or friends on nearly 80% of their shopping trips, according to Univision’s study.

Hispanics’ impulse to shop with others extends to the digital world, as well.

Hispanics are highly social online. eMarketer estimates that in 2012, 68.9% of Hispanics were using social networks, compared with 66.2% of the total US population. And social tools, once in Hispanics’ hands, become more than just a way to communicate with far-flung relatives and friends.

Post Foods’ “Pensemos Positivo” Facebook page for its Honey Bunches of Oats breakfast cereal had more than 167,000 “likes” by the end of March 2013, which was “more than three times the engagement levels of our non-Hispanic Honey Bunches of Oats page,” according to Mike Foley, Post’s brand manager for US Hispanic & Export.

Hispanics are also more likely than the general population to use social media to query their social networks about products and retailers, according to a June 2012 study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and slightly more likely to write product reviews than the general population.

In addition, the mobile internet plays a major role in Hispanics’ shopping: Their use of mobile and smartphones while shopping is higher than any other ethnic group, according to a March 2012 Terra Networks and comScore study.

And they are more likely than other ethnic groups to use their devices in-store for a variety of activities, including comparing product prices, texting or calling a family member about a product, and looking for coupons.

Despite US Hispanics’ embrace of mobile and digital tools, marketers say there is a challenge in engaging this demographic in ecommerce.

“We see [Hispanics doing] a lot of online research,” said Meredith Hispanic Ventures’ Vega. “But often they will take that information into the store … Their use of online is definitely more informational than transactional, at least at this point.”

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