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Latinos in U.S. Increasingly Favoring Spanish

November 08, 2000|Lee Romney

Bilingual Latinos in the U.S. are increasingly gravitating to Spanish at home, work and in media consumption and are less interested in "fitting in" with the mainstream than they were several years ago, according to two recent studies.

The trend of so-called reverse acculturation, an embracing of cultural heritage, is of interest to marketers who are eager to tap Latino spending power.

According to the 2000 Hispanic Monitor study of consumer values and attitudes conducted by Connecticut-based Yankelovich, 69% of Latinos say the Spanish language is more important to them than it was five years ago, up from 63% in 1997. Only 64% of Latinos said they were concerned about fitting in, down from 72% in 1997; and 68% said they were concerned with finding acceptance from non-Latinos, down from 77% three year ago.

The survey also touched on brand loyalty and found that 65% of Latinos felt brands "kept them in the know and informed about what's going on in the marketplace," compared with 60% of African Americans and only 41% of white non-Latinos.

Latinos also were more likely than any other group to feel that "brands let other people know where they are on the social ladder," the study found.

The study was based on data from 1,206 in-home interviews in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, San Francisco/San Jose, Chicago, Houston and San Antonio. Respondents represented a range of backgrounds: 56% Mexican, 12% Central American descent, 10% Puerto Rican, 8% Cuban, 7% Dominican and 5% South American.

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A separate study, conducted by People En Espanol, also found that strong cultural ties influence lifestyle and media preferences. That study focused largely on purchasing power, expected to reach $452 billion in 2001, and how that money is being spent.

Of 1,400 Latinos interviewed by telephone by independent research firm NuStats International, 46% own their own home, 90% own or lease a car and 46% report that at least one of their cars was purchased or leased new. Fifty percent of respondents said they had a cellular phone and 46% had a home computer, up from 33% reported last year.

Eighty-three percent of respondents speak Spanish in the home, while 90% speak English at work and more than 75% consider themselves bilingual. A total of 76% read print magazines, and of those, 70% read magazines in Spanish.

And when choosing between two identical products, 60% said they preferred products advertised in Spanish or both Spanish and English to products advertised in English only.

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