The power of the Hispanic community at retail continues to gain ground, according to a Univision proprietary study.
There are 62 million Hispanics in the U.S. accounting for 19 percent of the country’s population. In an interview Tuesday, Univision’s executive vice president of research, insights and analytics Roberto Ruiz referenced the youthful makeup and buying strength of the Hispanic market.
Twenty-three percent of babies born in the U.S. are Hispanic. And Hispanics have a younger median age — 30 compared to 42 for non-Hispanics.
Traditionally, Hispanic consumers have represented a higher percentage of brick-and-mortar shoppers versus online, since in-store shopping is practically a form of entertainment especially among bigger families, Ruiz said.
Previous research has indicated that there is always a sense of discovery in shopping in stores. Before the coronavirus crisis, 53 percent of Hispanic respondents preferred to shop in stores and 47 percent preferred online shopping. The pandemic propelled online shopping and for Hispanics that shifted to 63 percent, Ruiz said.
“What is most surprising is the speed at which the Hispanic consumer has pivoted to e-commerce across categories. Now when Hispanics are asked about what they expect to happen after COVID-19, they are saying that 53 percent of their shopping will be online, compared to 48 percent online for non-Hispanics,” Ruiz said.
As for whether that shift is more indicative of how the pandemic has made many shoppers more comfortable about buying things online and they see no need to return to in-store shopping, he said, “Yes, however, everything we do is comparing Hispanic to non-Hispanic [people]. Non-Hispanics are telling us that 48 percent of their shopping will be online and 52 percent will be brick-and-mortar.” He added that he was surprised that more than half of Hispanic respondents said they will continue to shop online.
Asked about why there is still a need to inform businesspeople about the importance of the Hispanic consumer base, Ruiz said, “That’s a never-ending journey and it’s interesting how the market can be so segmented between brands that understand Hispanic consumers and engage with them on a regular basis and reap the benefits of it,” citing Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. as “very engaged” versus brands “that are dipping their toes in the water or not doing anything.”
That was the impetus for doing the survey on e-commerce and direct-to-consumer brands, according to Ruiz. “We found across apparel and accessories, footwear, home decor and pet decor, more Hispanics than non-Hispanics are planning to make a purchase online in the next 12 months.” Noting how the ease of returning merchandise is a factor, Ruiz said 75 percent of Hispanic consumers said they plan to make an online apparel or accessories purchase in the next 12 months versus 61 percent of non-Hispanic consumers.
Asked about premium brands, 61 percent of Hispanics said they were willing to consider direct-to-consumer brands for mid- to high-priced purchases, compared to 44 percent for non-Hispanics, he said.
Forty-six percent of Hispanic households have children, whereas 27 percent of non-Hispanic households have children. In 2019, Hispanics spent an estimated $388 billion in retail spending, comprising 14 percent of total retail sales. While brands sometimes consider average household incomes, and the average Hispanic household income is slightly below a non-Hispanic household, Ruiz said, “Your income is not critical but where you spend your money and your spending power. Hispanics are saving less and spending more.”
Asked how future spending of the Hispanic community, one of the harder hit segments of society by the pandemic, will be affected, Ruiz said, “Yeah, that’s true. There are two angles. On one end [Hispanics have] definitely [been] hardest hit in terms of the disease in the epidemic. But also, we have a higher-than-average number of essential workers.”
Referring to the multigenerational dynamic in Hispanic households, he said anecdotal data shows that if a family member loses their job due to COVID-19, they tend to have “a cushion,” as in the support of other relatives. “We have seen spending sustained through COVID-19.” Hispanic households have 3.3 people, compared to non-Hispanic ones with 2.4 people.
Asked about the prevalence of surveys that companies are increasingly presenting to the media that nine times out of 10 offer self-serving results, Ruiz noted that Univision uses third-party resources. He said, “Absolutely, we have a hypothesis and we want to verify it with research. Our hypothesis is based on facts. As I told you before, younger consumers, they need these products, they are embracing digital and e-commerce so I have reasons to believe that the information that we will receive will be positive.”
He suggested that was not always the case. “We [have] run a COVID-19 tracker, where we detected that Hispanics were more affected by COVID-19. We also detected that they were more willing to go out than non-Hispanics, and that could have been a cause for the higher spread. Not everything is positive. This survey is very positive. We did a political survey in the past and we just put it out there…maybe Pew [Research] is more interested in just finding out the issues. We do cultural research. Positive or negative is such a relative term. My brick-and-mortar clients are not going to think this is that positive.”
Reminded that most of those retail clients have online businesses, which makes that irrelevant, Ruiz said with a laugh, “For these reasons, we put out the information and our clients and partners decide what is the best action.”