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Though their use of broadband is slightly lower, online Hispanics in the US are 211% more likely to download digital content than the average US adult internet user, and they also are significantly heavier users of cell-phone features, according to (pdf) a study by Scarborough Research.

The study finds that 42% of Hispanic internet users have downloaded some form of digital content during the past 30 days, compared with 35% of the total internet population. Music is the top download category for both Hispanics and the total online population. Almost one-third (32%) of Hispanic internet users and almost one-quarter (24%) of all internet users have downloaded music during the past month.

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Broadband Adoption Mirrors Total Population

Broadband use among Hispanics is a few percentage points lower than that of the total online population, Scarborough found.? However, Hispanics’ rate of adoption in recent years has mirrored that of the total US population. Currently, 68% of Hispanic internet users have a broadband connection in their household (up from 13% in 2002), vs. 71% of US internet users who currently have broadband at home (up from 15% in 2002).

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“Increased high-speed internet access among Hispanics is opening the door for online businesses to establish brand loyalty with this consumer group,” said Gary Meo, SVP of digital media services, Scarborough Research. “Offering Hispanics new and creative ways to interact with a brand online – particularly via downloaded digital content – could go a long way in successfully marketing to the Hispanic adult.”

Internet Use Reaches Critical Mass

The study also found that Hispanic internet usage overall has reached a critical mass. The majority (54%) of Hispanics are now online, and internet access among Hispanic adults has increased 13% since 2004. In contrast, internet access by all consumers nationally grew only 8% during this time period.

Cell-Phone Feature Use Higher than Average

Hispanic cellular users are on par with or slightly above other US cellular subscribers in feature usage across most categories. The most popular features include text messaging, which is used by 55% of Hispanics (vs. 48% of total cellular subscribers); picture taking, used by 53% of Hispanics (vs. 46% of total cellular subscribers) and downloading ring tones, done by 32% of Hispanics (vs. 29% of total cellular subscribers).

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Geographic Variations and Usage Patterns

The study also examines 13 local US markets with higher-than-average concentrations of Hispanic adults. Research reveals distinctive internet usage patterns and local variations. Some key geographic differences:

  • Miami is the top Hispanic market for broadband penetration. More than three-quarters (76%) of Hispanic internet Users in Miami have broadband at home.
  • El Paso, Dallas, Fresno, CA, and Harlingen, Tex., are the markets in which Hispanic residents are least likely to have a broadband connection.
  • Phoenix is the leading local market for Hispanics who download digital content. Some 60% of that city’s Hispanic internet users downloaded digital content during the past month.
  • El Paso, Miami and Dallas are the markets where Hispanic internet users are least likely to download digital content.
  • Hispanics in New York and San Francisco are likely to spend the most online, while those in El Paso and Harlingen spend the least.

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  • San Francisco has one of the lowest Hispanic internet access growth rates in the country (4% growth from 2004-2008), but it has one of the highest Hispanic broadband penetration rates and Hispanic downloading rates.

About the research: Scarborough’s full report, “The Power of the Hispanic Consumer Online” (pdf) contains details on internet spending, mobile device usage, and overall Internet usage among Hispanics. It also compares and contrasts internet users across 13 Hispanic local markets. The data in the report is from Scarborough’s USA+ study, as well as select local market studies.

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