Diving Deeper Into Diversity—Hispanic Research
by José Marrero (President of JAM Consulting) and Mike Humphrey (Senior Vice President at Decision Analyst)

  • Hispanic Research

    At a conference last year, a speaker asked the audience ‘what is the biggest challenge we face in marketing research?’ In a room full of corporate and supplier-side researchers, one theme rose to the top: sampling. Concerns ranged from fraud—including the incidence of bots and “professional” survey takers—to worries over how representative our samples truly are these days.

    While the prevention of fraud is ongoing and evolving, the issue of representativeness deserves just as much attention. This is particularly true in the diverse U.S. Hispanic market, where the demographics, attitudes, and behaviors can differ from the general population in important ways.

Here are just a few examples:

  • The Hispanic market is growing much faster than the general U.S. population. Over the next 40 years, the segment is expected to grow by 82% and will comprise nearly 30% of the population. This compares to a less than 10% growth rate among non-Hispanics.
  • Hispanics skew younger, while other segments are aging. Nearly 60% of Hispanics are Millennials or younger, while that number is closer to 40% among Caucasians. Almost half of Hispanic households have a child younger than 18 in the home.
  • Gen Z: Hispanics represent 24% of the total Gen Z population, and 93% of those are U.S. born
  • Hispanics tend to be more mobile. Social networking and internet use among Hispanics continues to move en masse to smartphones, even more so than among the general population.
  • Spanish is widely spoken. Over 70% of U.S. Hispanics speak at least some Spanish at home, although there are significant differences in language use and acculturation across generations.
  • The Hispanic market is itself diverse: 60% of Hispanics in the U.S. are of Mexican descent, but a growing number are from the 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Hispanics differ from the general population in many categories including media consumption, adoption of new technology, and on topics like food safety and the environment.

How do we as researchers account for these trends and differences in a growing and important segment? Some things to consider when researching the Hispanic market:

  • Consider generational differences along with primary language. First-generation Hispanics tend to prefer the language of their country of origin. Subsequent generations are bilingual or English-dominant. They inherit culture from their parents and the communities they grow up in.
  • Aside from being underrepresented in general, Hispanics sitting on traditional research panels tend to be more acculturated and speak Spanish less frequently. Consider a variety of recruiting tactics: In-person intercepts, social media, and specialty online panels should all be considered in order to increase the diversity of respondents.
  • Mobile-friendly surveys are critically important. This is especially true for Spanish-dominant consumers, who tend to be even more smartphone dependent than the general population.
  • Consider country of origin. Just as English differs from country to country, so does the Spanish language. Having a survey reviewed by someone in-country or an ex-pat is strongly recommended, particularly when researching across Latin America.
  • Use a battery of questions to identify Spanish-language dominance. Adding Spanish media consumption (TV, radio, internet, print) is more thorough than simply asking “How often do you speak Spanish?”

With the population of Hispanics nearing 1 in 5 Americans, and a spending power of $1.7 trillion and growing, companies are faced with new opportunities and challenges in reaching this increasingly important segment (or segments, to be more accurate). As market researchers, we’re obligated to dig deeper to better understand the Hispanic market, ensure our sample is representative of the market, and deliver actionable and accurate research.


Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; Pew Research Center; Nielsen

About the Authors

José Marrero (imgonnajam@gmail.com) is President of JAM Consulting in Austin, Texas. You can view José's LinkedIn profile or he can be reached at 1-512-507-6723.

Mike Humphrey (mhumphr@decisionanalyst.com) is a Senior Vice President in Client Service at Decision Analyst. He can be reached at either 1-800-262-5974 or 1-817-640-6166.


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