Brand Loyalty Drops as Hispanics Acculturate: Study

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. - As Hispanics become more acculturated, there is less evidence of brand loyalty, according to new research from The Nielsen Co.

"When it comes to brand loyalty and the Hispanic consumer, the key learning for marketers is understanding the importance of building a brand relationship during the initial stages of acculturation and maintaining this connection as Hispanics' integration to American life increases," said Tim Kregor, president, Nielsen Consumer Panel Services.

One example of this that was revealed in the data was the carbonated soft drinks category. Only 33 percent of Hispanics surveyed who either only spoke English or preferred to speak it over Spanish preferred a particular brand of cola, while nearly 70 percent of Spanish language-preferred homes favor a brand.

Similar trends were noted for other categories, such as laundry detergent, cereal, toothpaste, and beer. In this example, language serves as the primary measure of determining acculturation level, which influences Hispanic consumers' brand loyalty and shopping habits, according to Nielsen.

Nielsen also found that Hispanics preferred to shop at stores that resonate with the sights, sounds, smells, and sensibilities of their homeland, which suggests that retailers can create a familiar sense of community and a comfort zone for consumers through a targeted product assortment, importing specialty lines that are relevant to Hispanics, and stocking items with bilingual packaging, as well as hiring bilingual employees, posting bilingual signage, and distributing bilingual coupons.

For Hispanic consumers, shopping can be a family affair, the research shows. Retailers wanting to attract the attention of the Hispanic consumer would benefit from creating a family-friendly atmosphere, such as festive decor such as balloons and rest areas for seniors. And, while respect is a fundamental of customer relations across the board, there is a certain reverence extended to elders within the Hispanic culture that should be reflected in staff dealings with older shoppers.

In addition, many Hispanics make a concerted effort to keep in touch with relatives living in their homelands. According to Scarborough Research, a service of Nielsen, Hispanics of all language preference are heavy users of phone service, are 95 percent more likely than the average consumer to have spent $100 on long distance, and are 18 percent more likely to have rung up a cell phone bill of $150 or more during the last month.

Searching for a more favorable deal, Hispanic consumers are more likely to plan on switching cellular providers during the next year, and 11 percent more likely to use a prepaid cellular plan, providing retailers in Hispanic markets an opportunity to offer prepaid calling cards.
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