As influential decision makers in household spending, Latinas are rapidly becoming a key driver of the U.S. economy, staking their claim in major family financial decisions like vehicle purchases. With their spending power continuing to grow, Latinas also are catching up with or exceeding Hispanic males and non-Hispanic females in big ticket purchases, including homes and vehicles. In fact, nearly half (40 percent) of Latinas ages 20-39 feel they know more about the car-buying process than their significant other, according to a new survey commissioned by Kelley Blue Book www.kbb.com, the vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry. In addition, when shopping for a vehicle, Latinas prioritize practical features like fuel efficiency and safety, but also don't want to sacrifice style and comfort.
"Latinas are an influential segment of the U.S. population and are projected to reach 30 percent of the total female population by 2060," said Mark Williams, analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "With the Hispanic market's purchasing power expected to reach $1.7 trillion by 20191, Latinas' growing importance to the automotive industry can't be ignored by automakers and dealerships."
Highlights from the Kelley Blue Book Latinas on Wheels Survey:
- Vans? No, Thank You: Latinas may be looking for a vehicle that can move their family around, but that doesn't mean they are willing to forego style. Only 6 percent say they want their next vehicle to be a van, while more than a third (34 percent) prefer SUVs, and nearly a third (32 percent) want a sedan. In addition, 14 percent of Latinas ages 20-29 would like their next vehicle purchase to be a luxury car.
- Spanish Language Isn't a Must: Contrary to popular belief, a majority (63 percent) of Latinas surveyed do not feel it's important for car salespeople to speak Spanish. Only 17 percent feel a Spanish-speaking dealer is very important.
- Latinas are Savvy Car Buyers: More than half of Latinas (56 percent) say their first step when purchasing a car would be to conduct research online, compared to just 15 percent who would consult friends or family. They also cite vehicle history reports (27 percent), consumer reviews (21 percent) andexpert reviews and ratings (21 percent) as the most helpful online tools when researching a car to buy.
- Confidence May Be Lacking When Visiting the Dealership: While 40 percent feel they know more about the car-buying process than their significant other, 95 percent of respondents say they would ask someone to accompany them when visiting a car dealership.
- More Concerned About Budget Than Technology: Unlike many other Millennial consumers, Latinas in their 20s place significantly more importance on fuel efficiency (60 percent) and safety (57 percent) over technology features, suggesting that more practical features are more important to them than the latest tech innovations when buying a car.
- Comfort Matters: Latinas want to be comfortable while driving, and dual air conditioning control is a favorite feature for most respondents (51 percent), followed by heated/cooled seats (37 percent), keyless entry and start (36 percent), and a sunroof (21 percent).
- Car Safety Remains a Priority: Among the safety features Latinas look for, collision prevention and automatic brakes top the list at 44 percent, followed by blind spot monitoring (35 percent).
- Latinas are Ready to Buy: More than half of Latinas in their 20s and 30s (55 percent of Latinas in their 20s and 53 percent of those in their 30s) say they expect to purchase a car within the next year.
"It is important for the automotive industry to keep in mind that today's Latina car buyer is a practical consumer who knows what she wants and is doing her homework before visiting the dealership," said Williams. "While Spanish-language salespeople are not a priority for her, survey results suggest she could use more confidence when visiting the sales floor. Highlighting the cost savings of environmentally friendly vehicles, touting safety features in new models, and making the car dealership a place where Latinas feel comfortable, are all good ways to reach her."