Latino buyers have been loyal to certain brands over the years, and carmakers have relied on that to sell their new model vehicles. Things have changed however, and Hispanic consumers are now a powerful force in creating new trends and changing the landscape of the market. Automakers are actively wooing this growing and powerful group of consumers, recognizing that long-standing loyalty to one brand may not be taken for granted in the future.
Latino purchasing power in the car market has grown from $491 billion in 2000 to $1.2 trillion in 2013. They have, on average, suffered during the recession and have higher unemployment levels, but as a group are making great progress in upper mobility. As Latinos become more financially stable, achieve higher levels of education and opportunity, their spending habits are changing.
Tia Hardeman, manager of Chevrolet Diversity Advertising, said recently, “Chevrolet is trying to engage the Latino consumer authentically. We are integrating with key Latino passion points to become more relevant to buyers. For example with Silverado, the ads show the heart of the truck segment with images of hardworking family men and women at the center.”
Nearly 90 percent of Latinos live in metro areas, so family sized and smaller cars are often what they look for. In addition, CUV’s have become attractive due to better gas mileage for families that are large, with different generations sharing a home. The Honda CRV-4 compact SUV’s fuel economy appeals to many Hispanic families. Other popular models are the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape and Chevy Tahoe.
For the over-30 group born outside of the U.S., research shows that Toyota is a favorite, especially the Corolla. Among those born in the United States, Honda Accords and Civics are preferred.
Javier Moreno, corporate communications from Toyota, says “Toyota has ranked number one among Hispanics since 2004. Today, Toyota remains the #1 brand in the Hispanic market, leading the industry with 16.3 percent market share. The Corolla continues to be the #1 national selling vehicle in the Hispanic market, with 19.3 percent share of all standard subcompacts sold.”
In addition to a love of imports, the Latino market is increasingly interested in “green” cars and luxury vehicles. Those with higher incomes are actually purchasing luxury vehicles at a higher rate than the general market. This includes everything from Land Rover to Mercedes Benz to Ford Shelby Mustangs and Lexus models. As Latino success and immersion into the American culture continues to grow, they will continue to seek out vehicles that are fuel efficient and suitable for the family while offering the latest in comfort and technology.