The 2010 US Census reported over 50 million Hispanics living in the US, accounting for 15.2 million of the total US population growth.

With the explosive growth of the US Hispanic population, it is baffling to see that many businesses are still not marketing directly to this segment. This may be due to a lack of understanding about the audience and why marketing to them directly makes sense. Also, there is the question of where to find them and how to reach them.

Traditional media has worked well for marketing to Hispanics, but the shift to the digital sphere has also seen changes in Hispanic media consumption. For starters, there are currently over 32 million US Hispanics online; and this number is expected to reach 42 million within the next 3 years. This is a big number but what does it really mean in terms of marketing?

Let’s take a closer look at this number in comparison to the US general market. Overall, Hispanics are spending more time and are interacting more online than other ethic groups, including Whites. The Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA) compiled the following research findings from various sources. Here’s how that number breaks down:

  •  US Hispanics spend 10 minutes more daily on social networks, an average of 29 minutes per day, than non-Hispanic Whites.
  • With regards to content creation, 40% of US Hispanics publish blogs and websites, create and upload videos, and post articles and stories they’ve written compared to only 12% of non-Hispanics. 
  • US Hispanics are also digital critics. Thirty-nine percent of Hispanics post ratings and reviews of products they’ve purchased and services they’ve received. They also comment on blogs and websites, while only 15% of non-Hispanics participate in these activities. 
  • US Hispanics are just as social online. Forty percent of them visit social networks and maintain profiles in these networks compared to 19% of non-Hispanics. On Facebook alone, 14 million US Hispanic users were reported in March 2011.
  • Hispanics also pay close attention at what is happening online. Sixty-nine percent of US Hispanics read blogs, watch videos posted by others, and read customer ratings and reviews compared to 42% of non-Hispanics.

There are three key reasons why US Hispanics are over-indexing in the digital sphere; culturally they are more social, they embrace technology (such as mobile devices) at a faster pace, and they skew younger than the general population.

US Hispanics are culturally more social

Because culturally they are highly social, US Hispanics find it important to stay connected to family and friends at all times. The emergence of online social platforms has facilitated this; which is why we see US Hispanics spending more time on social media sites than any other ethnic group.

This same social tendency accounts for why Hispanics publish more content online. They want to express themselves and they want to be heard. Similarly, US Hispanics value the opinions of others and it is the reason why they seek reviews of products and services from their social networks when making purchase decisions.

Technology is embraced at a higher pace

Technology also plays a major role in the way US Hispanics consume digital media as mobile devices have become more available, allowing this population access to their social networks anytime, anywhere. 93% of US Hispanics use mobile phones on a regular basis –texting and using social networks on these devices more often than the general market. The reason behind the adoption rate and higher usage for mobile devices amongst US Hispanics brings us to the last point; the US Hispanic population skews younger.

The median age of US Hispanics is younger

27.5 is the median age of US Hispanics vs. 36.5 of the general US population, according to 2010 US Census data. Hispanics are early adopters and are more likely to try out new technologies than other ethnic groups; both which can be attributed to their youth. And because Hispanics have been embracing technology at a faster pace they are ahead of the rest of the population. Younger Hispanics are also more acculturated, are becoming more educated, and have a higher earning potential allowing them to obtain the tech devices they are using for continued communication and socialization.

The growth in US Hispanic buying power is exponential, and using online venues to market to this audience is an effective way to get their attention, but knowing these numbers is just a step in the overall marketing strategy. Understanding the importance of marketing specifically to US Hispanics is an obstacle many companies still face, hindering them from the financial benefits they can obtain from this exciting audience. Companies must know their audience and communicate to them in the way they expect to be communicated to.

Taking a marketing tactic that has been used for the general market and repurposing it for discerning US Hispanics won’t work no matter how many online channels a company is using to advertise products and services to them. Companies who are currently marketing to US Hispanics the right way (think Toyota’s Hispanic market campaign) are happily reaping the benefits. Let’s see how many more companies will be doing the same in 2012.