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Expert and Nielsen Exec Monica Gil Discusses Significance of Hispanic Spending and Behavior

First Posted: May 13, 2015 04:34 PM EDT

With 1.5 trillion in spending power, there's little need for arguing -- Latinos have a firm hold on national wealth and spending that has influences the way mainstream marketers think, function and spend.

It's because Latinos lead the way in effective years of buying power that marketers are eager to gain the support of the booming Latino population, which is comprised of confident spenders. The years of effective buying power exceeds that of non-Hispanic white. Hispanics average an additional 20 years of effective buying power compared to the general population. Therefore, when evaluating multicultural marketing trends, marketers should not only consider the short-term return on investment (ROI), but also the long-term ROI that comes with serving the Latino population.

"For Latinos, and multicultural markets in general, I think it's important to understand how to connect data with culture. And you do that by making sure you start with Latino and multicultural insights on the front-end, and not as an afterthought," Monica Gil, senior vice president and general manager of Multicultural Growth and Strategy at Nielsen, said to Latin Post. "I think it's very important to make sure you lead with Latino insights when you're looking at marketing plans and to maximize growth opportunities, because the general market is now multicultural. For instance, you can't think of millennials without thinking Latino."

Young people between 18 and 34 are the most racially diverse generation in U.S. history, and 21 percent of millennials are Latino. Also, of all the Hispanic women in the U.S., 60 percent are under the age of 35. These young women are on the precipice of starting families, which means they're starting a whole series of 'first' and they're in acquisition mode, searching for an array of new products and services. 

Thus, it's important to understand the dynamics of the new general market, including understanding how language plays a role, as language has evolved for Latino Americans. According to Gil, Spanish and English is not 'either/or' for the Latino population. It 'and/both': Spanish and English, or both Spanish and English. The linguistic dexterity that's taken place is only a side effect of Latinos being what Gil calls "the 200 percent population," because Latinos are ambicultural and "100 percent Latino and 100 percent American." They're easily able to seamlessly transcend between cultures without thinking about it.

"The reports on the Latino segment are very important to clients. One of the things that we know is that the world is changing, and it's changing permanently. If you think about the growth of our population, the reality is that Latinos currently make up 17 percent of the United States population," said Gil. "Think of it this way, within the next 35 years, the growth of Latinos is going to be equivalent to adding 10 additional New York City's, populated by only Latinos. So, the importance of these reports is helping clients and industries connect with the cultural aspect of viewing, purchasing, and digital behavior that is truly going to be the opportunity for them to grow their business."

Hipanics/Latinos are "super consumers," and the concept of super consumers grows from the understanding that there is a subset of consumers who drive the most value and are the most heavily engaged in a specific category. Depending on the category, a particular group loves, evangelizes and economically and emotionally invest in that category. For example, Latino households drive up to 50 percent of profits in category of hot sauce, and that's because Latinos are emotionally involved with the category, which means they're going to have speedier paths to insights, and they're able to help marketers understand how to reach them as consumers.

"What brands really need to know about super consumers is that they're transforming shopping and U.S. mainstream in many different factors. They gravitate toward brands and products that reinforce their cultural roots," said Gil. "And this is very important when you think about it, because they have an emotional attachment to the brand. It helps them to increase in categories such as food, health and beauty and family planning. [Also], it's very important for [marketers] to understand the super consumer who's purchasing the most of their product."

For Latinos, technology is a key driver. Latinos are ahead of the curve in technology. Also, they use a digital landscape for everything. According to Gil, technology revolutionized the traditional living room and shopping experience. Thus, to reach this multicultural consumer, marketers must connect digitally with them, but also understand the cultural nuances that they use in their digital behavior.

"Think about multicultural and Latino consumers. They're multitasking with their multiple devices. On average, they have about four devices ... and it's important to understand how they use these devices," said Gil, who mentioned that at any given moment Latinos can be watching a program on television, talking about the plot of the television show and instantly purchasing an item online or through their mobile devices or their tablets once spotting a product in a commercial. Technology has changed the speed of purchasing decisions, particularly among Latinos, who are very active in social media spaces. Reports show that multicultural consumers average about 73 visits per month, and they're engaging in about 46 apps per month, as well.

Additionally, Gil reported that one thing to know about Latino growth is that it's irrespective of immigration. Growth will continue in traditional states (California, New York and Florida) and the U.S. will also see growth in unconventional territories.

"The new growth is coming from markets such as Charlotte, Raleigh and Atlanta. For example, in a market like Raleigh, you're able to see 138 percent growth in the last decade. Also, in a market like Charlotte, you saw about 168 percent growth in the last decade. So, what this is really telling me is that Latinos are everywhere, we're growing and not just in the traditional concentrations that's thought about when you think about Latinos," said Gil. "When I say we're growing throughout the entire country, I mean there are 147 Latino children born to Latina mom every hour in the United States. In a state like California, it's 34 every hour, one every two minutes. That's really important information for marketers to understand."

Every marketer is at a different stage in their multicultural journey, and their journey of Latino outreach. What's most important is that firms are actively seeking out multicultural interests and looking to connect with Latinos digitally. For example, understanding that Latina moms' circle of influence almost exclusively include other Latina moms, even in digital spaces, is an important step in understanding that Latina mothers, who are increasingly becoming the breadwinners and the decision-makers in their households, seek the valued opinion of Latina mothers when making purchasing decisions. 

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