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Upscale and Affluent Latinos Are Tech Savvy, Bilingual and Big Spenders

First Posted: Jul 25, 2014 01:17 PM EDT

Savvy, affluent and upscale Latinos have soaring purchasing power, and ad campaigns have been working to connect with high-earning Latinos by attempting to understand the preferred media and voice of this segment.

The upsurge in U.S. Hispanic affluence has become more visible within the last two decades. The number of wealthy Latinos (incomes greater than $75,000) doubled from 2000 to 2010, growing at three times the rate of non-Hispanic upscale households. In 2010, there were 2.9 million upscale Latino households, and that number has continued to increase.

Marketers have utilized traditional and non-traditional media to catch the attention and interest of this group, which tends to enjoy the purchase and use of big ticket items such as computers, smartphones, tablets, homes and cars -- 97 percent of affluent Latinos own a cellphone, versus 83 percent of all other U.S. Hispanics.

Because upscale Latinos own technology and regularly operate mobile devices, they are able to stay connected to family and friends via texts, social media sites and blogs. These active mobile users use their phones to access research information, explore educational opportunities, search relevant articles and operate applications. But they also use their devices to shop.

Nearly 70 percent of upscale Latinos spend $1,000 or more online each year, doing so on multiple platforms. And marketers have responded to their wealth with a variety of campaign strategies. English campaigns alone don't win over affluent Hispanics, who have identities rooted in American culture and that of their own heritage. The segment has shown a preference for bilingual media consumption.

Many high-end stores have Spanish services and Spanish-speaking sales assistants in some of their stores, connecting with affluent Latinos on site and online. This is important because affluent Latinos enjoy personal engagement, but they are also tech savvy. Also, upscale Latinos often associate themselves with expensive brands, seeing it as a mark of high status.  

Upscale Hispanics who own luxury cars speak English very well but often like to interact in Spanish. And when companies have switched to Spanish-language marketing, they receive more attention from bilingual clientele.

Affluent Hispanics only represent one-fifth of the U.S. Latino population. But they generate half of the cumulative income of Latino households, and their buying power is projected to reach $680 billion in 2016, while estimated overall Hispanic buying power has surpassed $1.2 trillion.

Status, educational attainment and upward mobility may be a desire of upscale Latinos, but it does not negate the fact that affluent Latinos embrace cultural duality, and they expect the same of those attempting to sell them big-ticket items. Owning a home or a luxury car is an emotional endeavor for affluent Hispanics, so engaging Hispanics in their preferred "home" language can yield great results for brands.

Nevertheless, many upscale brands have failed to reach upscale Hispanics. Many target the English-dominant group with only English or only Spanish, presuming an overlap in awareness if they offer both, likely disregarding the fact that marketing campaigns must have relevant imagery and messaging. Interacting with affluent Latinos in Spanish makes many believe that their heritage is being respected, but marketers must also reach U.S.-born English-dominant Latinos who would also like to be considered.

"Young Hispanics do not want us to have a separate dialogue with them just because they are Hispanic. They want a broader conversation that acknowledges they are in the room and that speaks to their values," Fusion CEO Isaac Lee said to USA Today. "Something we have talked a lot about is winking at Hispanics, focusing on the cultural nuances that a Hispanic consumer will certainly recognize, but a non-Hispanic might not see at all." 

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