Internet May Help Close Economic Gap Among Hispanics

Technology may be the democratizing force in narrowing the economic gap between Hispanics and the mainstream population in the US, according to a study by Cheskin Research.

The study, “The Digital World of the US Hispanic” examined computer usage, technology adoption and penetration, and barriers in telephone interviews with more than 2,000 Hispanic respondents. It also asked about technology brand awareness, future purchase intent, Internet usage and activities, and usage of Internet services.

According to the study, 42 percent of US Hispanic households have a computer. In the past two years, household computer penetration has increased approximately 43 percent in the general US population and about 68 percent among US Hispanics. Technology adoption among Hispanic households is growing faster than previously believed. The main barriers to computer and Internet adoption are lack of understanding of the benefits of these technologies, rather than economic considerations. Opportunities may arise through education and benefit awareness building, the study found.

“Technology and the Internet will without a doubt be the democratizing force in narrowing the economic gap between Hispanics and the rest of the US,” said Juan Faura, Director of Global Strategy at Cheskin. “However, it’s important to realize that this technology may also strengthen their cultural identity. Only a thorough understanding of how Hispanics differ, resemble, and relate to the rest of the population and the resulting opportunities have the potential to be leaders with a very loyal brand following.”

While brand loyalty is typically very strong among Hispanics, no one technology brand has yet predominated among this group, according to the study, meaning a strong brand has the potential to lead in this market. Apple/Macintosh rated highest among the study’s respondents, although surprisingly it is not the brand that most Hispanics said they would own. Yahoo was found to be the Internet service used by the largest percentage of Hispanic Internet users.

While Hispanic Internet users seem to prefer English language sites, they consume traditional media in equal quantities of Spanish and English, and 28 percent use Spanish online at least occasionally. Content-rich Spanish language sites may emerge as a fast growing category.

Trust issues appear to be the greatest barrier to shopping online for Hispanic adults. Understanding the keys to online trust and this culture’s brick-and-mortar shopping preferences will ease this barrier, according to the study.

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