Latina consumers help control the majority of more than $1 trillion in Hispanic buying power. (Photo/Getty Images)

How Latinas are increasingly influencing what products you will be buying

More Latinas than ever before are making decisions big and small – ranging from which laundry detergent to purchase and which car model to drive home – influencing the preferences of the U.S. Hispanic market whose buying power is worth $1.2 trillion annually.

The growing number of U.S. Latinas, their purchasing power and consumption habits are the focus of a new report by Nielsen, released Thursday. According to “Latina Power Shift,” more Latinas than ever – approximately 86 percent – consider themselves the decision makers in household spending, which is expected to reach $1.5 trillion by 2015. It’s a number that, when spent across categories like groceries, technology, beauty products and automobiles, has become the object of attention by marketers and businesses alike.

“The modern Latina is ‘ambicultural’ with the ability to seamlessly transcend between English and Spanish-language – two cultures – giving her a unique position in our consumer landscape,” said Mónica Gil, senior vice president, public affairs and government relations at Nielsen. “Latinas are a key driver of economic influence, giving marketers an opportunity to establish new and loyal consumer relationships by acknowledging the needs and following the unique behavior trends of Hispanic women.”

Nielsen file  stats

These Latinas, reports Nielsen, are also better educated than ever before.  In addition, the number of U.S. Latina mothers is growing, as 23 percent of all U.S. births in 2011 were to a Hispanic female, and two-thirds (63 percent) of all Latino families have children under 18 years of age, compared to just 40 percent for non-Hispanic white females.

“U.S. Latinas can do more on their own than ever before, and that includes getting more education, making more money and deciding what to do with the money earned by their household,” says Felipe Korzenny, Ph.D, an expert in Hispanic marketing and director of the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University. “This is true of all women, but Hispanic women in particular. Consequently, this trend is very important for the future, as the consumer behavior of U.S. Latinas become a larger part of the mainstream market.”

And that consumer behavior, says Dr. Korzenny, will eventually extend beyond a taste for salsa, a product which has outpaced ketchup sales for years or a purchase of dulce de leche-flavored Cheerios, a product introduced last year by General Mills. Instead, as the number of Latinas increases – U.S. Census data estimates that Hispanic women will comprise 30 percent of the total female population by 2060 – their tastes, values and preferences will influence the overall U.S. population.

“We are experiencing a mutual acculturation process by which the American population is learning from Hispanics and Hispanics are learning from non-Hispanics,” explains Dr. Korzenny. “More than ever, the lines between what is strictly American and what is strictly Latino are being blurred. “

“So in the long-term, companies will need to appeal to consumers across a new U.S. Latino identity, which reflects a growing number of English-speaking, culturally connected Hispanics.”

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