Hispanics vs. non-Hispanics Mobile Phone Use… Different and the Same

March 11, 2014 Author: Roy Eduardo Kokoyachuk

The question isn’t whether or not Hispanic consumers adapt to mobile technology faster than their non-Hispanic counterparts. We know they do. The same goes for the frequency of mobile phone use. The questions are… To what degree? and For what purposes?

In a recent ThinkNow Research nationwide study of Mobile phone use by Hispanics vs. non-Hispanics, we set out to find the answers. Here are our key findings.

Hispanic Mobile Usage Findings

We asked a group of 500 Hispanic study participants about their recent use (past 7 days) of their mobile phone. Here’s is a summary of what they told us:

Hispanics mobile trends and activities

Clearly, Hispanic mobile users are more active than non-Hispanics. Interestingly, that was true even for the “fun” categories such as "Looked up celebrity gossip" (15.1% for Hispanics vs. 6.4% for non-Hispanics) and "Purchased a song" (14.0% vs. 7.5%).

One of the other popular uses of mobile phones is "texting." Hispanics are clearly more active here, too. When asked how many other people they exchanged texts with on a typical day, 8.0% of Hispanics said "none," compared to 23.4% of non-Hispanics. For 3-4 people (33.6% for Hispanics vs. 25.5%); for 5-6 people, it’s 12.0% vs. 6.1%. Clearly, Hispanics are a more connected group.

Hispanic Social Media Mobile Usage

The use of mobile phones to access social media sites was interesting – with several similarities between Hispanics and non-Hispanics-- but with two very big differences. For those engaged in social media, 95.5% of Hispanics used their mobile phone to access Facebook compared to 98.6% of non-Hispanics. The usage numbers are also relatively close for several other sites – Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

But for Twitter and Instagram – the numbers swung in completely different directions. For Twitter, the heavy users were non-Hispanics, 61.1% to 44.8%. Conversely, for Instagram, it was Hispanics leading the way, 43.9% to 29.2%.

When it comes to advertising on mobile phones, differences go away – with Hispanics and no-Hispanics having very similar feelings. For example, both groups would be willing to receive advertisements on their phone in return for free services (e.g. live TV) – so said 45.0% for Hispanics and 41.5% for non-Hispanics.

Likewise, both groups would equally support phone ads in return for lower cell phone rates, 56.9% and 56.4%, respectively.

Yet, both Hispanics and non-Hispanics find cell phone ads equally annoying (at 80% for both segments). The lesson here is that if you want to advertise on cell phones – regardless of your target audience – know that the ads will irritate the recipients, but they are willing to trade with you to accept them.

Maybe the most intriguing finding from this study is that with all of the activities that can be conducted on mobile phone - website surfing, texting, social media, coupons, etc. – more than 50% of ALL consumers just want a mobile phone to make phone calls and nothing else. These numbers of generally pretty consistent across all demographics – age, geography, gender and household income.

What does that mean? Do consumers feel obligated to use the myriad features on their phones? Is there social pressure to do all of the other things? Do consumers just need a break sometimes from the incessant activity?

I guess we’ll leave that for another study!

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Download this study.