Friday, August 23, 2013

Fashion, Style, and Culture: The Case of US Latinos

Retailers often talk about how Hispanics are different in their approach to dress, clothing, and fashion. There has been coverage in the press about how some shopping centers are morphing themselves into Latino shopping centers to better serve their local communities and stay in business.

From casual observation I know that Hispanics dress up to go out on the weekends and kids are very well dressed to go to church and other activities, even when going on airplanes. The attention to dress and detail to style is apparent in a great number of cases. Many Latinos spend much of their leisure time in stores and malls enjoying their free time with their families and becoming informed about fashion and style. I have observed the more sensual approach to dressing by both Hispanic men and women. What are the attitudes that underlie this attention to style and fashion?

To answer the above question, I used the data from the Experian Marketing Services Simmons National Hispanic Consumer Study, that was collected between January 30, 2012 and March 13, 2013. The chart below shows differences in “any agree” (agree a lot plus agree a little) with the attitudinal statements about style and fashion with which Latinos were more likely to agree:

As observed above, Hispanics are more likely than non-Hispanics to be feel they are opinion leaders about clothes and fashion. They also are more likely to trust top designers and to trade up to newer designs faster than non-Hispanics.

Latinos are more likely to be influenced by fashion magazines and most importantly, Latinos enjoy more the activity of shopping for clothes. And Hispanics are also more experimental in the approaches to clothing and style.

What does these trends tell us? I think that Latinos are now influencers in fashion that need to be carefully watched as their tastes and preferences evolve. Marketers need to be pay attention to these trendsetters as their numbers and influence increases in the US.

Further, the eagerness these Hispanic consumers show to be in style, corroborates that merchandising for them is not necessarily the same as what is traditionally done for the rest of the population. Interestingly, the contrast of the attitudes on which non-Hispanics exceed Hispanics are interesting as documented in the chart below:

As can be seen non-Hispanics are the ones who are more likely to express conservative style and clothing attitudes. This trend adds evidence to the observation that Latinos are more likely to lead in dress, fashion, and style.  In terms of profitability and trend making marketers need to be be aware of the differences that Latinos represent for the future of their brands and retailing activities.

Clearly, examining the trends in the charts above suggests that conservatism is in general a more pervasive trends that leadership and innovativeness.  The percentages of conservative attitudes are higher. Still, where Hispanics excel is in having larger minorities that express an eagerness to change and innovate regarding style.

What can marketers do? Include more Latinos/Latinas in their approaches to marketing, regardless of whether or not their approach is a “Total Market” or more targeted approach. The voice of Hispanics needs to be over-represented in strategies that are forward looking. Further, Latinos need to be considered as opinion leaders and co-opted to represent your brands as they are more likely to genuinely embrace innovation and change.

The moral of the story is that there is no general market and that Latinos are shaping marketing futures.

The data used here is from Experian Marketing Services’ Simmons National Hispanic Consumer Study of adults 18+ -and was collected from January 30, 2012 to March 13,, 2013. The sample of Hispanics contains 7,982 individuals and the non-Hispanic sample has 16,870 people.

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