April 24, 2014
By Mario Carrasco
U.S. Hispanics are brand loyal. And often times, brands are encouraged to introduce products early in the acculturation process to improve chances of adoption because its widely believed that Hispanics become less brand loyal as they acculturate.
But are Hispanics more loyal than their non-Hispanic counterparts?
That’s what everyone seems to think. However, the U.S. Hispanic market is not a homogeneous group. It’s deeply diverse and will continue to evolve over time, making it impossible to believe that yesterday’s truths still hold true today.
So, we decided to test the theory of heightened brand loyalty among U.S. Hispanics by asking a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. Hispanic consumers about their brand purchasing behaviors across a number of categories and compared their answers to a control group of 500 non-Hispanic consumers.
How we did it
We zeroed in on seven product categories: bottled water, laundry detergent, toilet tissue, pasta sauce, dishwashing soap, orange juice, and toothpaste. Then we asked a series of questions about buying specific brands within each of those groups… and how they would respond if their “favorite” brand was not on the shelf when they were shopping.
What we discovered
In general, Hispanics and non-Hispanics ranked about the same when it came to brand loyalty. When asked if they “always” buy the same brands (across the seven selected products), 30% of Hispanics said they did vs. 29% of non-Hispanics. On a 5-point Likert scale, the top 2 box answers “always” and “mostly” were chosen 56% of the time by U.S. Hispanics.
Clearly, that makes them brand loyal, right? Well, yes, but no more so than non-Hispanics, who chose those options 58% of the time.
In fact, when looked at individually, the 3 products that rated highest in brand loyalty were the same across both groups:
1. Toothpaste: 63% 1. Laundry detergent: 65%
2. Laundry detergent: 62% 2. Toilet tissue: 64%
3. Toilet tissue: 61% 3. Toothpaste: 63%
Both groups even agreed on what product they were least brand loyal to – bottled water – saying that they “buy whatever is cheapest, regardless of brand” about 15% of the time. And with 40% of bottled water coming from municipal taps, who can blame them?
Are there really any differences then?
Yes. Hispanic consumers will respond differently than non-Hispanics, especially when their favorite brand of product is not on the shelf.
In this case, when asked what they would do if the brand they usually buy was not available where they normally shop, 23% of Hispanics reported they will go to another store to buy their favorite brand vs. 16% of non-Hispanics. And since Hispanics tend to make fewer shopping trips but are likely to spend more per trip, capturing brand loyalty and becoming their shopping destination of choice is essential.
The brand loyalty gap narrows between the two groups, however, when asked if they would come back another day to get their favorite brand, with 20% of Hispanics vs. 22% of non-Hispanics, saying they would.
What does it all mean?
As much as we want to contrast Hispanic consumers to non-Hispanic consumers, at least when it comes to brand loyalty across common household goods, the truth is, there are a lot more similarities than differences.
But despite brand preferences, for the U.S. Hispanic consumer, loyalty ultimately lies with those brands who successfully tap into what drives their purchase decisions in the first place – cultural relevancy.