February 9, 2011, 2:56 PM

Latino consumers rank low on web access and mobile phone ownership

But Latinos use mobile devices for getting to the Internet slightly more often, Pew says.

Thad Rueter

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Latino consumers are less likely than consumers characterized as white to have Internet access and mobile phones, says a report today from Pew Research Center. Latinos also tend to have less home broadband access than do black and white consumers.

The report is based on surveys of more than 3,600 adults that Pew broke down as Latino, black and white. (The U.S. Census Bureau defines Latino or Hispanic as descriptions of heritage, not race, and considers that Latinos may be white or black.)

The report does not directly address e-commerce, but its findings could help online retailers hoping to market more effectively to non-white consumers in the United States. Already, major online retailers, including Best Buy, No. 10 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, have put major effort into marketing to Spanish-speaking online shoppers.

White consumers lead Latino and black consumers in Internet use (77% of white respondents), home broadband access (65%) and mobile phone ownership (85%). 66% of black respondents use the Internet, as do 65% of Latino respondents. 52% of blacks have home broadband access, compared with 45% of Latinos, while 79% of blacks own mobile phones, compared with 76% of Latinos.

But there’s a twist: When the survey controlled for the differences in education and income among Latino and white respondents, the differences between the two groups faded. “In other words,” the reports says, “ Hispanics and whites who have similar socioeconomic characteristics have similar usage patterns for these technologies.”

The survey suggests that while Latinos are less likely than black and white consumers to use non-voice functions on mobile devices, Latinos are more likely than whites to access the web from mobile devices (31% to 29%) and also slightly more likely to send and receive e-mail (27% and 26%). Black consumers are more likely than the other two groups to do both from their mobile devices.

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