The market researcher last week released the insight into Hispanic shopping behavior during the designated US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Hispanic Heritage Month. According to its Homescan research across multiple categories, the more culturally assimilated Hispanics became, the less evidence there was of brand loyalty in their shopping choices. The group used language as the primary measure of determining acculturation level, which influences Hispanic consumers' brand loyalty and shopping habits. Nielsen gave an example of purchases of select brand/flavors of carbonated soft drinks, which showed that 33 percent of English language-only/preferred Hispanics bought a particular cola, while nearly 70 percent of Spanish language-preferred homes bought the same brand. The same type of behavior was noted in other categories, including toothpaste, cereal and beer. "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 of Nielsen Consumer Panel Services. The market researcher stressed the importance of the family unit for the Hispanic population, with shopping often becoming a family affair. It also identified the need to create a connection with the consumer group in the shopping environment, through the use of sights, smells, sounds and sensibilities from their homeland. "It is critical for retailers and marketers to understand the wide range of factors driving Hispanic consumers' shopping behavior," said Kregor. "By understanding what Hispanic consumers are buying, where they're buying it, how they're buying it and why, retailers and marketers can adapt product offerings and promotions to ultimately better satisfy this rapidly growing and diverse consumer segment." Speaking last week as part of USDA's National Hispanic Heritage Month observance, agriculture secretary Mike Johanns said the latest figures reveal that there are 44m people of Hispanic heritage currently living in the US. They account for 15 percent of the nation's population. By 2050, estimates suggest that there will be 100m Hispanics in the US, accounting for 25 percent of the population. Current Hispanic buying power is estimated at nearly $1 trillion.