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Latinos Leading the Mobile Web

by Gus Razzetti on July 29, 2011

Mobile is the fastest-growing platform in the world. In the U.S., for example, there are more than 290 million mobile subscribers. And this growth is not only about penetration. It’s reshaping the way consumers use their devices. The mobile industry estimates that, by the end of this year, almost 90 percent of all new phones sold in America will be smartphones.

In that same direction, according to Google, mobile web traffic will surpass PC traffic in 2013. It’s clear that, for marketers, mobile marketing represents a powerful tool whose role needs to be redefined.

Digital Divide or Digital Conquest?

In the past months, many experts have been talking about a digital divide among Latinos. The notion that many Latinos are using their mobile device as the main, and many times only, way of accessing the Internet created a lot of reactions. Some say that this audience is losing a bigger, more complex experience by browsing the web via mobile instead of a regular PC.

When you analyze the smartphone penetration, almost half of Latinos own a smartphone, a much higher percentage than the general population. Important to note, 65 percent of Latinos use their handset as their primary access to the Internet. Even for its original purpose, talking, 60 percent of Latinos use their mobile phone as their primary phone service. Jokes aside, Latinos have a love affair with their mobile phones: 75 percent of adult Hispanics sleep with their phone.

If we go back to Google’s projection on how the web is becoming mobile, it seems to me, more than a digital divide, Latinos are leading (or conquering) this new trend.

Leading the Smartphone Penetration

Seventy-four percent of Hispanic mobile subscribers are between 18 and 44 years old. Being younger than the overall populations as well as more tech-savvy is helping drive smartphone penetration. These users are young, bilingual, dynamic, and connected. They live fast-paced lives, always on the go; their phone is an extension of self and they rely on their mobiles for everything.

Latinos are early adopters of the iPhone: more than 30 percent of iPhone users are Hispanic. But they are also Android fans: around 30 percent of Latinos with a smartphone have an Android phone and growing.

The iPhone has a better share among 25 to 34 year old Latinos and skews male. Android has a more even distribution in terms of age and sex.

From a language perspective, 52 percent of Latino smartphone users are English preferred with some Spanish, and 38 percent are Spanish preferred.

Super-Connected and Entertainers

Social media ranks as the top mobile activity for Hispanics – no surprise there – more than one-third of Facebook updates are mobile.

According to Forrester, Hispanics lead in mobile activity:

  • 55 percent of Latinos are “SuperConnecteds” – these are the most sophisticated users of mobile phones that access the Internet at least weekly and do multiple advanced activities monthly or more often (versus 34 percent of non-Hispanics).
  • 60 percent of Latinos are “Entertainers” – they listen to music, watch videos, or play games on the phone at least weekly (versus 46 percent of non-Hispanics).

In that same direction, consider these interesting trends according to information provided by Briabe Media:

  • 100 percent of those who are on the mobile web more than 20 hours per week use their phone for social networking.
  • Texting is by far the most utilized mobile service for this audience, followed by phone calls.
  • Surfing the web on their mobile phone is quickly becoming as popular as placing calls.
  • Entertainment is their number one priority

One Size Does Not Fit All

When it comes to targeting the mobile Latino, there are three different segments to consider, based on content preferences and usage.

  1. Just games. This segment is all about games and their phone is like a mobile console. They play games that connect them with friends, and they are receptive to brand placement in games. They regularly purchase games from a cell carrier.
  2. Entertainment. They stream video and music, access social networks, and use apps that connect them with other people.
  3. Productive life. They use apps to organize, remember tasks, take notes, etc. to be more productive in both their professional and personal lives.

The Latino Opportunity

Mobile is taking over as the key way of accessing the Internet. Latinos are leading this new trend, representing an important opportunity for brands. Here are some thought-starters.

  • Leverage content:
    • Brands can integrate entertainment into mobile campaigns to increase engagement.
    • Sponsored content, product, and brand placement in apps and games represent great brand and product integration.
  • Personalize experiences:
    • Programs that tie into elements of social networking over the mobile phone can be a great way to capture attention.
    • With location-based couponing and discounts, click-through rates are skyrocketing.
  • Try different formats:
    • Is your website mobile-ready?
    • Text alerts and SMS still remain strongly viable.
    • Test different formats to see which performs better.
  • Build a mobile platform:
    • Don’t just approach mobile as a bunch of tactics.
    • Kraft Foods and Hillshire Farm have been very effective in building platforms that combine mobile websites with recipes, mobile coupons, videos, celebrities, SMS messaging, and targeted mobile media campaigns.

Remember, Hispanics over-index in mobile content consumption, are active users of advanced mobile features, and are more receptive to targeted advertising.

As published in my Marketing to Latinos column @ ClickZ.com

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