Let la música take control

The recent passing of Apple founder and super-star innovator Steve Jobs has saddened us. Mr. Jobs truly challenged many dialogues with regard to how people access technology and media. One such area Jobs has been credited for reinventing is the digital music industry. Through the invention of the iPod and the iTunes music store, he and Apple placed music and entertainment into the hands and pockets of people the world over. Interestingly enough, a recently released study by Dr. Felipe Korzenny of the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communications at Florida State University (FSU) explored the use digital music by Latinos and other ethnic populations. Considering audiences that marketers in the music industry have traditionally targeted, the study results may be a bit of a surprise.

The study, conducted this past spring by FSU and DMS Insights, aggregated the music buying preferences between physical CD’s and MP3s online for African-Americans, Asian Americans, Spanish-dominant Hispanics, English-dominant Hispanics, and non-Hispanic whites. Overall, for casual music buyers, the study results indicated little differences among those that prefer to buy physical CD’s. For those that prefer to purchase MP3s online, the study indicated a stronger tendency among Asian Americans along with both groups of Hispanics. However, among those surveyed that purchase music often, the survey indicated English-dominant Hispanics have the most aggressive tendency to buy MP3’s online compared to all other groups. As stated by Dr. Korzenny, “this seems like a historic innovation breakthrough”.

Some marketers may hypothesize that since English-dominant Hispanics over-index with the online music purchases, shouldn’t this also indicate less of a need for ethnic music selections and segmented multi-cultural marketing? Not exactly. A previous study, facilitated by the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA) and Simmons Market Research, puts to rest a common assumption that Spanish-language media and entertainment is the realm of older Spanish-dominant Latinos. The study found that younger Latinos in the U.S., aged 18 to 34, consume Spanish-language media at higher rates regardless if they are Spanish or English dominant. Obviously, cultural relevance trumps language when it comes to the buying preferences of Hispanic consumers with media and entertainment.

What the sum of both studies by FSU and AHAA indicate is that there is a younger and lucrative Hispanic audience primed to flex its purchasing power muscle with the digital music industry. Commenting on his study that indicated high interest among ethnic groups like Latinos for buying digital music, Dr. Korzenny pondered, “Why companies like Apple and Amazon do not pay more attention to the tastes and interests of these minorities since they are the ones innovating precisely at the core of their business”. Marketers and brands in the music industry may be wise to heed his advice.

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