Latinas are the savviest shoppers

A recent survey finds that Latina shoppers work harder to find deals and use more technology than other consumers.

In the wake of the presidential election, Hispanics have more political clout. But it’s their buying power that gets the attention of businesses. By one estimate, Hispanic consumers contribute more than a trillion dollars to our economy. But that doesn’t mean they’re carelessly throwing money around. In fact, Latina shoppers, in particular, excel at finding stuff that sells for a song.

As part of her job, Vanessa Koneffklatt puts her foot down -- over and over again. She’s a professional flamenco dancer. It doesn’t pay a lot, so she spends her money very carefully. The Mexican-American performer bought the dress she wears on stage at a thrift store.

“It was a $5 dress that I can dress up with a scarf and it looks like a complete flamenco outfit,” says Koneffklatt.

Koneffklatt is an expert at uncovering hidden bargains. She says, “The deal’s out there, you just have to really look for them.”

And wait for them. A friend recently bought shoes for $100 that most retailers sell for $150. Koneffklatt liked the shoes, but thought she could do better. So she held out.

“And I found the shoe for $70 and I immediately purchased it,” says Koneffklatt.

Her shopping habits reflect those of other Latinas.

Wendy Liebmann is CEO of WSL Strategic Retail. A recent survey by her company found that Latinas are about the savviest shoppers out there.

“The Hispanic woman is very engaged in being a smart shopper,” says Liebmann. “And by smart shopper, I mean really focused on getting really good value for her family. So she’s out looking for deals all the time.”

The survey showed that, compared with other consumers, Latinas visit more stores to find bargains. They postpone purchases until items go on sale. And Latinas are more likely to use the Internet and mobile devices to identify deals.

“She’s using new digital technology at a relatively high level, and often at a higher level than Caucasian or African-American shoppers,” says Liebmann.

Forty-year-old Mireya Vela is one of those high-level, high-tech shoppers. From her house in the hills overlooking Los Angeles, she browses for clothes using a web browser.

“I like to do most of my shopping online,” says Vela. “I really don’t like to go into malls or boutiques. I like to shop from the comfort of my home.”

If an online retailer doesn’t offer free shipping, she won’t shop there. Today, the mother of two is shopping for socks. She sits on the couch armed with a laptop and checks her favorite website, a hub for bargain hunters called Retail Me Not.

“Retail Me Not would have who’s having socks on sale; who’s having pants on sale. People post all these coupons on there. So it’s kind of like a Facebook for coupons,” says Vela.

Wendy Liebmann says major retailers are starting to appreciate the rise of the Latina shopper.

“American retailers are getting there. I won’t say that they are there, by any means,” says Liebmann.

Hispanic-owned businesses don’t necessarily have an advantage. According to Google, nearly 60 percent of them don’t have a website.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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