NEW YORK (11/20/08)--A study from Experian Consumer Research is shedding more light on Hispanics' attitudes and behaviors about finances. Credit unions with outreach programs to that market might need to ensure they're on top of the trends. The Hispanic market is increasing in importance to credit unions and others because a growing population can influence the success of products and services. Total adult Hispanic population has grown by 20% the past four years, with younger and older segments growing even faster, according to the study. Much has been made of Hispanics' traditional distrust of financial institutions. However, Hispanic consumers surveyed said they feel more financially secure than in the past. Among the findings:
* Hispanics are using credit cards more. More than 25% of the Hispanic population reports using a credit card one to five times in the past 30 days, an increase from the last survey in 2004, says Experian. All levels of credit card use are up slightly from 2004. This suggests the population is either more comfortable carrying debt than in the past, or Hispanics see the importance of establishing credit, Experian said. * Their self-reported lack of knowledge about financial matters has increased. It could be that financial literacy education and other outreach efforts by institutions such as credit unions may make them more aware of what they don't know. * Compared with the average U.S. adult, Hispanic adults are more likely to shop frequently and buy in the spur of the moment. Hispanic consumers are more likely than the average U.S. shopper to pay higher prices for environmentally responsible products and are less likely to plan ahead for large purchases. Name brands are more important to Hispanics than they were four years ago. * The percent of Hispanics who say they don't like being in debt has decreased slightly the past four years. At the same time, Hispanics are now less likely to pay cash for their purchases. Experian says these decrease may help explain the increase in credit card usage.
The study is part of research that tracks Hispanic consumers' spending and buying behaviors, compared with the overall U.S. population.