Opportunity Ahead: Hispanics Plan to Spend More This Holiday

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A customer shops for frozen foods at a Walmart location in Panorama City, California.
A customer shops for frozen foods at a Walmart location in Panorama City, California. Credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Marketers have made a big push in recent years to target the fast-growing Hispanic population, a group of shoppers increasingly willing to spend both online and in stores.

Now the group, which Nielsen estimates deployed about $1.4 trillion in buying power last year, plans to shop even more this holiday season than last year, according to a new survey from ThinkNow Research, a Los Angeles-based Hispanic-focused market research firm. And to sweeten the deal for brands: Hispanics are more swayed by advertising than other groups, the report found.

Hispanics plan to spend 33% more this holiday season than last year, ThinkNow said. The increase is surpassed only by African Americans, who plan to spend 39% more, according to ThinkNow.

Only 46% of those purchases made by Hispanics will be in brick-and-mortar stores, a decrease from last year's 52% of in-store purchases, ThinkNow's survey found. It identified the top sites for Hispanics as Amazon, which introduced a Spanish-language version earlier this year, plus Target, Macy's and JC Penney. It's possible, too, that the migration online has been accelerated by the political atmosphere as some shoppers fear racism in physical stores. Earlier this week, President Trump said he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in six months.

"Hispanics are more likely to shop online and specifically in mobile," says Mario Carrasco, co-founder and principal of ThinkNow, noting that 62% of Hispanics will be using smartphones for purchases this holiday, a greater number than the total market's 50%.

In addition, and crucially for marketers, 10% of the Hispanics surveyed are more likely to spend based on advertising—double the 5% of whites who find gift ideas based on marketing. That's good news for brands that have targeted the group; the 50 largest spenders in Hispanic media spent $3.7 billion on U.S. measured media last year, according to Ad Age's Datacenter.

"Hispanics are very open to an emotional connection with brands," says Jennifer Elena, founder of the Jelena Group, a marketing and PR firm which worked on the survey with ThinkNow. "They want to engage with brands."

Carrasco notes that despite the growth of U.S.-born Hispanics, there's still a large population of foreign-born Hispanics, many of whom use advertising as an information vehicle to learn about brands, and share their findings with others.

Elena says consumers should expect to see more family-driven messaging around traditions and customs this holiday season, as such marketing resonates with Hispanics even more than Spanish-language commercials.

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