Communication Behaviors in the Multicultural Marketplace

By Felipe Korzenny, Ph.D.

In 2011 with our national online data set we summed the number of hours per week that different cultural groups spend on different communication activities in English and in another language. These included:

_ Listening to CD’s
_ Listening to the radio
_ Listening to MP’3’s on any device including an iPod or mobile phone
_ Listening to music on television
_ Using social media like Facebook or Twitter
_ Listening to Internet radio like Pandora or Last.fm
_ Talking with friends

While these are not all the communication activities a person can engage in, the list should be a good indicator of overall communication activities by different cultural groups. The graph below reports the total number of hours per week reported in the average by each of the cultural groups in English and in another language. Clearly, the other language used would be almost universally Spanish in the case of Hispanics.

The results are quite striking. Hispanics in general spend more time per week in the communication activities measured, and those Latinos who answered in Spanish (HS) reported spending more than 60 hours in media and communication per week, almost double the amount of time than non-Hispanic Whites (NHW). What is particularly salient is that the amount of time Latinos who prefer Spanish engage in English language communication is almost the same as non-Hispanic Whites. These Latinos are on “double communication duty.”

It is also important to emphasize that while Hispanics who prefer Spanish spend at least half of their time with English media and communication activities, they still spend the other half with English language communications. So it is not one language that is dominant for these online consumers, they split their communication world in two.

Hispanics who prefer English (HE) spend about 25% of their time with Spanish language media and communication, and they are the second most communicative group of all, with more than 50 hours per week. The third most communicative group is that of African Americans (AA) with about 43 hours per week, followed by Asians (A) with about 38 hours per week. Non-Hispanic Whites reported the least amount of time per week engaged in communication activities. A next posting will break down each of the activities. Here, however, the striking overall differences in amounts deserve some discussion.

The sheer amount of time spent on communication by Latinos in general should be of interest to marketers as these consumers should be especially available to receive commercial messages. We have known for some time that Hispanics are more welcoming of marketing messages, but this analysis substantiates the amazing communication openness of Hispanic consumers.

Further, marketers that produce entertainment content should find here substantiation of the enormous potential of this Latino audience. Social media use and personal interactions not only serve for the reinforcement of social ties but they also spread the word about marketing efforts.

In this case as in others we have reported earlier, we find that Hispanics and minorities in general tend to be more communicative than their non-Hispanic White counterparts. This should give some food for thought to marketers who think that their future still resides in the so called “general market.”

The data for this study was collected during March 2011. This online sample was comprised of 500 respondents per segment, for a total of 2,500, based on quotas by gender, age, and geographic location. DMS Insights managed the sample and data collection and they graciously contributed their effort to the academic program of the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University. Melanie Courtright, previously with DMS Insights championed this effort. She is now with Research Now and continues to support our research. This study was conducted by the faculty and students of the graduate Multicultural Marketing Communication course offered by FSU.

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