News Column

Corner Office

Nov. 15, 2011

Jesus Chavarria, Editor and Publisher

More and more, Detroit and global automakers are experiencing a deep realization that the U.S. Hispanic automotive consumer markets are expanding year after year and achieving critical mass. A multicultural market specialist at one of the Big Three domestic auto companies spoke of the growing strategic value of the U.S. Hispanic market. And he referred to it as a must target audience in every marketing plan. He couldn't say enough about the market being taken more and more seriously year after year as the number of vehicles sold and rising sales revenues continue to rise.

It's been long in coming but the buying trends are now engaged, locked in and sustainable well into the future. The fastest-growing brand among young Hispanics is Buick. Who would have thought 10 years ago that Buick would be creating such excitement among the 18-to-34 consumer segment? Between 2010 and 2011 the brand increased share volume by 73.9 percent, according to numbers from R.L. Polk.

Still, nothing is being taken for granted. While Hispanic dealers interviewed by Ralph Gray, automotive editor, are buoyant in their expectations about 2012, they continue to say much depends on the state of the economy in general. The mood is definitely bullish but also cautious. Yet, market vibes are positive and most dealers claim they are selling most of the product they are receiving.

Part of the reason for this buoyancy comes from the attitude of the Hispanic consumer. Recovering from the Great Recession faster than the U.S. market as a whole, the Hispanic consumer is more optimistic about finances in the future. That, according to dealer Mike Shaw, of Mike Shaw Automotive Group in Denver, has Hispanics making auto purchases and accessorizing their vehicles.

And what kind of vehicles are Hispanics buying? "Hispanic buyers are more inclined to buy a vehicle for its use," David Ferraez, president of Green Brook Buick GMC Suzuki in Green Brook, N.J., told Ralph Gray. And in many cases that means trucks, such as the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500.

Another indication of the burgeoning Hispanic consumer auto market is that finances are not at the top of the list of what Hispanics consider when they buy a vehicle. In its 2011 New Vehicle Experience Survey, Strategic Visions, of San Diego, listed the top three things Hispanics seek in a vehicle as image, manufacturer reputation and exterior styling.

Also in this issue, we have a one-on-one discussion with Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., about the current state of diversity. "Diversity is good for business," he tells HispanicBusiness magazine staff writer Rebecca Villaneda, but he feels companies at the leadership level must be shown how important diversity is for profits, and they must be shown how important diversity is when it comes to upper management and boards of directors.

In addition to his other efforts on diversity -- legislation, drawing publicity to the issue and one-on-one meetings with company CEOs -- Sen. Menendez plans to release a second Corporate Diversity Report before the end of the year.

Very intriguing reading as we head into the 2011 holiday season.

Source: (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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