Is there such thing as the 'Latino' consumer?

By Elaine WATSON

- Last updated on GMT

Is there such thing as the 'Latino' consumer?
According to the Census Bureau, the Latino population is the fastest-growing demographic group in the US. But is there such thing as the ‘Latino consumer’?

In a new report - The Multi-Cultural Latino Consumer - ​Hartman Group attempts to answer this question by gaining a closer understanding of how Latinos/Hispanics living in the US see themselves via a survey of 1,283 adult Hispanic/Latino-origin respondents representing 20+ countries of origin. 

It also surveyed 413 non-Hispanic/Latino-origin adult respondents to compare attitudes.

This revealed sharp differences in attitudes and cultural identification depending on levels of acculturation, but also some more general trends in relation to food culture that seemed to apply regardless of how long respondents had spent in the US and whether they identified as, say, Cuban, Cuban American, Latino, or American,.

In general, for example, Latinos:

  • … are more concerned about pain, weight control, anxiety/stress and cardiovascular issues​ than the general US population.
  • … consider lunch​ - not dinner - the most important meal of the day.
  • … are more likely to eat socially​ with family or friends and less likely to eat alone. And if they have to eat alone because of work or other factors, they still aspire​ to eat socially where possible.
  • … value freshness​ as a strong determinant of quality, although the more acculturated they are, the more likely they are to embrace packaged foods. Meanwhile, fresh does not necessarily mean healthy, but could be about comfort.

Acculturated, bi-cultural, Unacculturated?


To dig deeper, the report divides respondents up into 'Acculturated' (31%), 'Bi-cultural' (47%), and 'Un-acculturated' (22%) sub-groups according to several factors including the language spoken at home (eg. English or Spanish), media habits (Spanish or English TV, websites?), how many years they have spent in the US, and overall cultural identification.

The level of acculturation proved critical in determining the answer to questions such as: 'What term do you prefer to be called the most?' (eg. Mexican, Mexican-American, Hispanic, Latino, American), although even those classed as 'acculturated' - or the most 'American' - still strongly identified with the culture of their country of origin (see chart below).

Interestingly, while the most acculturated respondents were far less likely to keep up with Hispanic/Latino sports, news, entertainment, and even Spanish language, a similar percentage (62%) still wanted to "eat foods and beverages from my cultural heritage​" vs those in the bi-cultural (62%) or un-acculturated groups (68%).



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