Hispanic Consumer Back-to-School Shopping: Are You Paying Attention?

August 12, 2014 Author: Roy Eduardo Kokoyachuk

It’s that time of the year again… time for parents to take their children shopping so they can fill up their closets and backpacks with all new back-to-school clothing and supplies. After Christmas shopping, it’s the biggest shopping time of the year.

Interestingly, even though they plan on spending about the same amount of money as each other, Hispanic and non-Hispanics go about back-to-school shopping much differently… with the two biggest differences being WHERE the two consumers groups do their shopping and HOW OFTEN they shop. Read on to see the details from a recent nationwide Omnibus study we conducted…

For a couple of years now, we’ve been reporting on how Hispanic consumers are more aggressive users and adopters of technology. That trend also impacts their back-to-school shopping behavior.

In fact, across every purchasing category measured, a larger percentage of Hispanics will be shopping online than will non-Hispanics, with the biggest differences being in Books and Electronics.

Hispanic back to school spending

One area where Hispanics and non-Hispanics matched up was on the amount they were planning on spending for back-to-school shopping this year. The median average for both groups was $294… exactly the same on both sides.

But what’s really unusual is how long it will take each group to spend those dollars. Participants in the study were asked the following two questions:

  1. How many trips to physical stores do you usually need to complete your back-to-school shopping?
  2. How many online shopping sessions do you usually need to complete your back-to-school shopping?

In both cases, Hispanics take significantly more time to do their shopping:

  • On trips to physical stores, it takes Hispanics 19% more visits (3.81 visits vs. 3.20 visits) to complete their shopping.
  • When shopping online, it takes 31% more sessions (2.60 vs. 1.98) to wrap things up.

Why so much longer… with the same amount of dollars to spend? Who knows? It could be because they’re shopping for more children (on average, 1.9 children for Hispanics, 1.5 for non-Hispanics), it could be that they’re ‘pickier’ shoppers or maybe, like we’ve seen in other shopper studies, Hispanic consumers use activities like this as ‘social events’ – as an opportunity to bring family and friends together.

But the differences don’t just exist between Hispanic and non-Hispanics. Within the Hispanic community, there are a few really interesting dichotomies between high-acculturated and low-acculturated consumers. For example:

  • 95% of high-acculturated Hispanics planned to buy general school supplies this year, compared to only 81% for low-acculturated.
  • Similarly, for clothes, it was 85% and 57%, respectively.
  • But for some items – like text books and athletic gear – the trend was reversed, with more low-acculturated Hispanics looking to purchase those items.
  • Most intriguing? While 73% of low-acculturated Hispanics plan on buying electronics this year, only 31% of the high-acculturated had tech on their shopping list.

Bottom line: In some ways, back-to-school shopping in the Hispanic community is not all that dissimilar from non-Hispanics. But in many ways, there are big differences. And as we saw, there are even some significant differences within the Hispanic community itself.

The key to success is in understanding those differences and from that, creating products, services and shopping programs that not only appeal to Hispanic shoppers and drive shopping behavior, but are also sensitive to their cultural differences.

We are pleased to offer free of charge the full contents of the report referenced in this blog entry. Please click the link below to get your copy now.

Download this study.