Meredith Hispanic Ventures and NBC Universal's Spanish-language network Telemundo Group collaborated on in-depth, at-home video interviews with 13 young Latina women in four cities and on a wide-ranging survey of 1,004 Latinas and 500 non-Hispanics.
"What most surprised advertisers was how technically savvy this woman is once [household income] reaches $50,000, and how much they've raised the bar in what they want from the American dream," Ruth Gaviria, VP of Meredith Hispanic Ventures, said of marketers who saw preliminary results.
According to the study, conducted by OTX Research, the Latina respondents were slightly more likely than the non-Hispanic respondents to take pictures with a digital camera (45% compared to 42%) and download music to an iPod (28% compared to 22%).
"She's the chief household officer, and she's making all the decisions, from finances to food," said Jacqueline Hernandez, chief operating officer of Telemundo. "She has a new-found self-identity. She's very ambitious, and wants to have more than her mother."
In the "What Latinas Want" research, 81% of respondents said they are either the main decision-maker or make decisions with their spouse. The key factors determining their success in life were education, being fluent in English as well in Spanish, and often owning a business. Latinas are optimistic and self-confident, with 66% describing themselves as "someone who can do it all," compared with 53% of non-Hispanic women.
Latina respondents said their greatest financial concerns were rising taxes (75%), saving for retirement (71%) and paying bills each month (70%). Not including home mortgages, 44% said they have less than $10,000 in debt.
According to the research, 40% of Latinas described themselves as fashion-forward, 37% said they keep up with beauty trends and 37% prefer to use the latest products, compared to a somewhat smaller number of non-Hispanic women who said they are fashion-forward (31%), keep up with beauty trends (30%) and prefer the latest products (32%). The ethnography videos revealed an amazing assortment of beauty products in Latinas' homes.
Loyal to many brands
"She loves beauty and she's loyal, but she's loyal to just about every single brand," Ms. Hernandez said.
The ethnographies also revealed refrigerators and pantries packed with both Latin and mainstream products, as these women prepare some of the same foods they grew up with but add new ones.
"She's really mixing it up with American and Hispanic recipes, in spices, side dishes and how people eat at home," said Ms. Gaviria. "It's really fusion cuisine. For [companies such as] Nestle, Kraft and Unilever, that's actionable for them."
Another difference between Latinas and non-Hispanic women: Latinas are more likely (75%) than non-Latinas (63%) to say they'd rather have sex with their husbands than a glass of good wine.
Importance of mothers
In one tangible use of the research, Telemundo decided to recognize the importance of mothers with a special Mother's Day program hosted by Telemundo celebrity journalist Maria Celeste Arraras, Ms. Hernandez said. Target has agreed to be the main sponsor, while L'Oreal, Denny's and Western Union will also participate.
"The [Latina] mother is the driving force behind the new America," Ms. Hernandez said. "Her fertility rate is one-third higher, she's younger, and her high birth rate is driving the next generation."
As interest in Latinas as decision-making consumers grows, Miami-based Hispanic shop Accentmarketing this month announced a new research project called "Latinas in Charge." Accentmarketing is playing off both the survey topic and the fact that the agency, 49% of which is owned by Interpublic Group of Cos., is run by three female managing partners, led by Maria Romero, the agency's president.