An image-conscious growing Hispanic population spells big prospects

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Personal care Cosmetics Us

Personal care manufacturers would do well to target the US Hispanic
community, with growth prospects developing as second generation
Hispanics assimilate to US consumer culture but retain fastidious
personal care regimes.

The most recent US census shows that during 2006-11 the non-Hispanic US population is set to grow by 3 per cent, against population growth of 14 per cent for the Hispanic community. Likewise a fundamental shift was the fact that in 2004 Hispanic births surpassed immigrant births for the first time in history.

What this spells for marketers is tremendous market potentials, but, as the latest market report from Mintel reveals, a one size fits all approach will not work.

Alongside the rapid birth rate the Hispanic community is evolving and reasserting its social status in the US, particularly in view of the fact that so many of the population is now second generation.

For this second generations of Hispanics, a US education, growing up speaking English and being accustomed to US consumer culture means that this booming segment of the population is also more in tune with US personal care habits and consumer spend patterns.

Likewise, Mintel points out other key cultural differences in first and second generation Hispanics that can and do influence their personal care spend patterns.

Mintel identifies that amongst recent immigrants there is a belief in fatalism and not being in control of their own destiny, a beleif that affects attitudes to purchases such as skin care and sun care products. This means that interest in preventative products such as sun care and anti-aging treatments is low.

Likewise, media influence amongst first generation Hispanics is much higher than their often better educated second generation Hispanics. This means that approaches to marketing campaigns have to be quite different amongst these two sub groups.

"As the share of US-born Hispanics grows larger, media may need to shift and become more segmented to capture a wider range of Hispanic groups,"​ the report says.

The change in demographics from the first to the second generation should also spell more opportunities amongst female Hispanics, who traditionally spend considerably more on personal care products.

This is because a higher percentage of Hispanic males emigrate to the US - 116 men for every 116 females. However, amongst the second generation this imbalance is redressed as the immigrant-driven population shifts to a birth-driven population.

But despite the differences between the first and second generation US Hispanics, it seems that there are certain cultural traits that the population is holding on to.

Perhaps most important to the personal care industry is the fact that Hispanics of all ages and generations hold on to the desire to 'look their best' at all times.

This is evinced by the fact that, despite incomes being 27 per cent lower amongst Hispanics, the population does not skimp on its personal care spend. In fact they spend more, indexing at 102 comparatively, according to Mintel.

The report highlights that the main reason for this is that both Hispanic men and women are more likely to respond positively to the statement 'I take the time to look my best every day', the report says.

This statement is not restricted by age either, with female expenditure on cosmetic and personal care products only starting to tail off significantly after the age of 65.

Surprisingly the report also highlights the fact that ethnic products do not have a particularly high penetration amongst Hispanic communities, with a Mintel survey discovering that no ethnic brand had more than a 3 per cent penetration.

Where spend does come in higher is for products in the soap and hair care categories.

Spend on hair care products is particularly strong, with Hispanics spending an average of $57.87 per year on hair care products, compared to $37.93 for non-Hispanics, according to the GMDC Multicultural Marketing report.

Because Hispanics tend to have drier and curly hair, this translates into higher sales of conditioning products as well as hair straightening products and heavier styling products such as hair gels.

Soap products are also more common amongst all Hispanics, with this group three times more likely to wash with soap at least once a day compared to non-Hispanics. Likewise a higher use of soaps can also give way to higher use of moisturizers.

Specific to women is a high up-take of cosmetic products, with Avon proving to be the clear market leader. Hispanics use of cosmetics is up to 18 per cent higher than non-Hispanic groups, with Avon coming up as the clear favorite, recording indexes in excess of 200 in many categories.

Evidently the US Hispanic population holds great potential, given the significant growth rates, but marketers have to adapt to a rapidly evolving and increasingly sophisticated consumer if they want to tap into the subsequent opportunities.

In view of the fact that ethnic products have not met with any significant success amongst this population, the likelihood is that growth will be sustained through the development of niche products marketed to the general population, particularly in the hair care, soap and cosmetic categories.

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