Hispanic consumers have a surging influence in the U.S. economy, especially when it comes to spending power. According to a report from Experian Marketing Services, Hispanic households spend 1 in 10 discretionary dollars in America today. So when it comes to non-essential goods—everything from cell phones to coffee to cars—marketers can’t afford to ignore the preferences of a rising Hispanic consumer force. A quarter of people in America aged 6 to 34 are Hispanic or of Latin origin and the report says they have the greatest influence within this population.
The numbers are impressive. While spending for non-essential goods virtually flatlined among non-Hispanics last year, discretionary spending for Hispanic consumers grew 14 percent to $162 billion, up from $144 billion in 2011. In the West and Southwest, Hispanics hold an even larger share.
With this economic impact in mind, the report offers a look into the mindset of today’s Hispanic consumer, particularly when it comes to language preferences and advertising. Three quarters of respondents prefer to speak at least some Spanish at home. Not surprisingly, this varies by generation. One third of first generation Hispanics—those born outside the U.S.—prefer to speak only Spanish. That compares to more than half of their children and grandchildren born in the U.S. who prefer to speak only English. Still, the emotional ties to the Spanish language are strong even for younger generations. Among third generation Hispanics, 45 percent say they prefer to speak Spanish at least some of the time.
The implications for marketers are clear: Spanish language ads matter to Hispanic consumers young and old. The study asked respondents whether they agree with the statement “when I hear a company advertise in Spanish, it makes me feel like they respect my heritage and want my business.” This rang true for more than half of Hispanics that speak mostly Spanish and nearly a third of Hispanics that speak mostly English. In addition, significant portions of both the English-dominant respondents (30 percent) and Spanish-dominant respondents (50 percent) agreed that they are more loyal to companies that use Spanish language ads.