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Mobile Hispanics Shop Socially

  |  April 12, 2012   |  Comments

Nearly 70 percent of Hispanic smartphone users shop with companions.

Hispanics may be heavy users of mobile media, but they still prefer their social to be face-to-face.

A new report by digital marketing agencies White Horse and Sensis looked at Hispanic mobile shoppers, specifically, those who owned smartphones and used them to help them shop in physical stores.

The report, Hispanic In-Store Mobile Experience, found that 68 percent of Hispanic smartphone shoppers prefer to shop with at least one companion when buying expensive items and approximately half prefer to shop with others even when buying everyday items like toilet paper.

Hispanic-Americans have been significantly quicker to adopt smartphones than the general public, and they are almost 17 percent more likely to access the mobile web.

Researchers followed 15 Hispanic shoppers through retail stores and then surveyed 500 more to understand how they used smartphones while in stores. The 15 shoppers visited mostly big-box retailers including Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy, as well as an Apple store.

"We noticed that research participants, although recruited individually, would always bring someone along with them, with the intention to incorporate them into the shopping experience,” said Ramiro Padilla, strategic planner with Sensis and co-author of the report. “This was not a hypothesis we had from the beginning; it became evident throughout the research project."

Another surprise was that Hispanic mobile shoppers were 50 percent less likely than the general population to search for reviews or recommendations. This finding echoes a similar one from an early White Horse/Sensis study. That's likely because their shopping companions play the same role as reviews. When asked why they preferred shopping with others, the top two responses were for helpful advice (47 percent for expensive items and 25 percent for everyday items) and shared purchase approval (19 percent and 16 percent).

White Horse and Sensis recommended that retailers design in-store mobile shopping experiences to suit gregarious Hispanic shoppers. Collective shopping lists, for example, would let family members check off items as they put them in the shopping cart. A scanned QR code that sent a product image to a companion's mobile phone could let that person click a thumbs-up or thumbs-down icon.

Providing multiple sign-ins to an app from the same or multiple devices with different levels of permission would allow the person who controls the purse strings to approve or disallow purchases and suggestions added by others in the group.

Padilla said, "There are a couple apps out there with features like the ones recommended, such as multi-user shopping lists, but we are not aware of any app that is completely built around the idea of 'co-shopping.'"

Because Hispanic shoppers are efficient and often in a hurry, the agencies said that apps should not be distracting or require two hands to use. Finally, they advised stores to provide fast, free WiFi.

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Susan Kuchinskas

Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.

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