March 2001 - More Hispanics are using home computers, though fewer are purchasing goods and services online, according to a recent study. Researchers say the findings indicate that the Hispanic market is ripe with opportunity for computer manufacturers and related service providers.
The study, "The Digital World of the U.S. Hispanic II," expands on findings released last year by Cheskin Research, a market research and consulting firm. The latest data are based on responses from more than 2200 Hispanics who participated in telephone interviews nationwide.
Among the findings: Computer penetration among Hispanic households increased from 42.3 percent in the first quarter last year to nearly 47 percent in the fourth quarter.
Lack of information remains a key reason why Hispanics don't have a computer in the home, although the trend is diminishing significantly. Perceived expense is seen as the greatest barrier to computer ownership.
Computer brand awareness has changed little in the past eight months, and more than 70 percent of current non-owners have no brand in mind for future purchase, indicating that manufacturers still have a significant opportunity to exploit the Hispanic market.
Hispanic users continue to prefer mainstream portals. Yahoo! has increased its lead as the primary portal among English-speaking U.S. Hispanics. There will be opportunities for Spanish-language portals as more Spanish-dominant consumers enter the online world.
Internet trust among Hispanics has decreased significantly over the past eight months. The trend may be fueled by the prevalence of media coverage of payment and fulfillment problems.
"This study clearly shows that the U.S. Hispanic market has an overwhelmingly strong desire to be a part of the digital age. Given this market's unique sociopolitical characteristics, companies have a great opportunity to educate and tap into the needs of Hispanics in the United States," explains Felipe Korzenny, principal and co-founder of Cheskin Research. "As the general market reaches a saturation point of computer ownership, it makes sense for companies to explore the growing Hispanic market."
The study also examined Internet access speed and mobility. Of U.S. Hispanic adults who mentioned having access to the Internet, 16 percent said they have wireless access and almost a third reported having high-speed or broadband access at home. This finding indicates that about 6.5 percent of U.S. Hispanic households have broadband access.
"The significance of this kind of information can't be overstated," says Janet Galchus, director of interactive services for SiboneyUSA. "As an emerging market within a mature interactive market, U.S. Hispanic purchasing power will play a key role in the success of many Internet and technology companies."
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