Latinos, connectivity and the digital division

With a population of 55 million that continues to grow and a purchasing power of $1.5 trillion, Hispanics in the United Statesare an attractive demographic group for advertisers. It would be crazy if they were overlooked.

What makes the Hispanic group so attractive?

* The Hispanic population in the U.S. continues to grow: It is projected that by 2050 Latinos will constitute 30 percent of the population.

* According to a report by Nielsen last year, Hispanics used significantly more mobile minutes than the average consumer, making them "super consumers" within the mobile industry.

* Within the U.S. millennial generation (those born in 1981 or after), 21 percent are Hispanic. Representing the largest generation at this time, they are expected to redefine the U.S. economy.

* Latinos constitute the youngest ethnic group in the U.S., where six out of 10 Hispanics belong to the millennial generation or are younger.

* Hispanics are more visually oriented and spend more time watching videos on the Internet and mobile devices than do the rest of the population.

* Hispanics do not "assimilate" within the American culture; rather, they "acculturate." They learn to manage within the two cultures. Their solid and defined cultural values have a great influence on their behavior and, consequently, on their purchasing decisions.

* When Latinos find a brand they trust, they tend to stay with it and do not change.

The big brands and advertisers are courting influential Latinos (bloggers, celebrities on YouTube/Instagram, etc.) and their followers, in order to adapt their messages for publicity campaigns, in different platforms, to attract their attention and their purchasing power in the market.

But instead of being pioneers within the mobile market, many low-income Hispanics have access to the Internet only via their smartphones. This fact puts them in the midst of a digital division, which is the gap between those who have easy access to a computer and the Internet and those who don’t.

About 15 percent of the U.S. population does not have access to the Internet. While most people have some basic access, many low-income families are underserved, with slow connections or ones that are shared with many people.

A good start in the right direction is the FCC decision to update the old Lifeline program, providing a grant to low-income Americans so that they can buy broadband services that meet the average market levels. Besides having access to the Internet, people need to learn how to use it as a tool to improve their quality of life. Adults can learn to use it to find a job, children can learn to use it for research and doing their homework.

Moreover, why not include computer science classes at all levels in our schools? This would benefit our nation and make it more competitive globally.

Latinos make an important contribution to this great nation, and we need to be aware of our value, not only as attractive consumers, but as creators and agents of change.

Kelly Mullaney is vice chair of the Rochester Hispanic Business Association and owner of Working Art Media.

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