If you’ve been following the explosion in size and influence of the U.S. Hispanic market, the latest prediction about this critical consumer segment may not surprise you. According to new findings, the average Hispanic household is projected to spend more in their lifetimes than non-Hispanic white households, and by a significant amount – $400,000.
While Hispanic families tend to be larger than others in the U.S., they are also younger, providing them more opportunity to make major life purchases, such as weddings, cars and homes. And, regardless of their household income, Hispanics’ spending is on par – and according to some research, slightly more – than the total U.S. population.
Hispanic consumer spending for 2012 reached more than $560 billion, with transportation and insurance making up the largest spending categories. Included in this spending were products like mortgages, home equity lines, new and used auto loans and home and auto insurance.
What’s more, the disposable income of Hispanics is projected to more than double by 2020. When you view recent Hispanic consumer confidence surveys, this prediction seems fairly plausible, as more Hispanics indicated they expected an increase in their household incomes than other U.S. consumers.
All of this information provides yet another reason credit unions should be giving serious attention to the needs and wants of this fast-growing demographic. The benefit of serving Hispanics is about more than profitability through meeting growth goals; it’s also about helping cooperatives fulfill their missions of people helping people.
That is not to say that the attraction of and service to Hispanic members will happen overnight. For those credit unions serious about investing in the adaption of their programs for this market, establishing trust is an important prerequisite.
Although their spending power is immense, Hispanics remain disproportionately underserved. This is often because of lingering misconceptions either passed from generation to generation or brought to America from home countries.
The idea that U.S. financial institutions are untrustworthy or will take advantage of their inexperience remains prominent among both U.S.-born and immigrant Hispanics.
As trust is being built – through community partnerships, individual outreach and financial education – credit unions can be building out their Hispanic product roadmaps. What are the products and services that will add value to the fastest-growing, youngest and most underserved market in the U.S.? And what will it take to get these products tested and out into the communities that will respond?
The value of digital communication to Hispanic consumers is something credit unions looking to service this important segment can’t ignore. One recent survey found 14% of Hispanics use their computers or smartphones to compare prices of specific products, as compared to just 9% of the general population. For this reason, a credit union looking to serve Hispanic members may need to pay equal or more attention to its online and mobile strategies as to its offline tactics.
According to Filene Research, Hispanics, “like most consumers, ﬁnd the world of ﬁnancial services extremely confusing.” Therefore, it is not only important to consider the medium for your message but also the clarity.
Are you promoting your products and services in clear and concise ways? Are your products simple, your fee schedules uncomplicated, your sales and front-line staff trained in bilingual and bicultural communication?
Data, research, and the experience of the credit unions in our state alone that have successfully adopted their programs and services to the Hispanic market have taught us much about this influential consumer group. Yet, there is plenty to more to learn, particularly on an individual member level.
As with any cultural or demographic group, it remains important to practice sound segmentation strategies. Individuals who share a particular language or culture are still likely to be at different life stages, or within a credit union membership, at different stages in their member journeys.
Firms such as Coopera staffed with experts on the Hispanic marketplace can be a great resource for learning more about culturally specific segmentation strategies. These professionals understand how to group members and prospective members based on important characteristics, such as acculturation levels.
By better understanding the socioeconomic, language and generational nuances of a particular community, credit union marketers will have a leg up when strategizing customized and personal communication plans for their own local Hispanic markets.
Patrick S. Jury is president/CEO of the Iowa Credit Union League.