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Hispanic Women Embracing Mobile Commerce

A new study by Latina Insights reveals strong spending patterns for apparel.

“Acculturated” Hispanic women are proving to be enthusiastic consumers not only of fashion, but of the new technologies that make access to it simpler.

In a soon-to-be-released study of 1,900 Hispanic women either born in the U.S. or who have lived in the country for at least 10 years, just under two-thirds of the sample — 66 percent — own smartphones and 39 percent of the group use apps to assist them in their retail shopping. More than seven in 10 — 71 percent — are members of a daily deal site, such as Groupon or Gilt Groupe, and 90 percent of those with such memberships said they belong to at least two sites, with 55 percent having made purchases on them. The study was conducted by Latina Insights, the new research arm of Latina magazine publishers Latina Media Ventures.

Twenty-eight percent said they already had made a retail purchase with their phones, and online purchasing rates were higher, with 72 percent of respondents making at least three purchases in the past six months and 41 percent having hit the “buy” button at least six times.

Latina Insights said that the 50 million Hispanics — male and female — in the U.S. account for $1.3 trillion in consumer spending each year. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, they spent an average of $2,002 on apparel in 2009, 16.1 percent higher than the national average of $1,725, despite personal after-tax income that was 19 percent lower, $49,185 versus $60,753. The study indicates that the sample spent an average of $1,176 on holiday shopping last year, 56.6 percent above the national average of $751 reported by CNBC’s All America Economic Survey. Of the $1,176, purchases for themselves amounted to $246.

Like other shoppers, they were focused on saving money this past holiday, as 92 percent said they “aggressively” sought deals, sales and promotions. Apparel was the overwhelming choice of merchandise purchased for friends, family and themselves during the season, bought by 82 percent of respondents, with electronics and technical products a distant second at 60 percent and toys close behind that level at 58 percent.

Macy’s and Target were the favored “go-to” broadlines stores for holiday shopping, with both selected by 18 percent of those surveyed, followed by Kohl’s (13 percent), Wal-Mart (12 percent) and J.C. Penney (10 percent).

In the specialty apparel category for holiday shopping, Victoria’s Secret blew away the competition, selected by 64 percent of respondents, followed by Gap at 31 percent, H&M at 26 percent, New York & Company at 23 percent, and American Eagle Outfitters and Express at 20 percent each.

“The study makes it clear that this is an unapologetically feminine woman who wants to be spoken to as a feminine consumer interested in trends and innovation,” said Patty Oppenheimer, marketing director of Latina Media Ventures. “As you can see from Target beating out Wal-Mart, it’s not just a price proposition.”

Painting an optimistic portrait of the market, 70 percent of the Latinas believe their financial circumstances are as good or better than they were a year ago, and 90 percent expect to be doing as well or better in a year. The latter figure contrasts with the 28 percent of Americans who predicted their personal finances would worsen in the upcoming year in a recent Pew Research study.