Study: Social Network Preferences Tied to Ethnicity

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MediaPost Publications

by Gavin O’Malley, Tuesday, Jun 3, 2008 7:45 AM ET YouTube is having trouble attracting as many female African-American and Hispanic adults as their male counterparts. And MySpace and Facebook are having a tough time appealing to Hispanic females.

These are just two findings from a recent study conducted by Synovate, the market research arm of Aegis Group, exploring the online behavior of U.S. ethnic demographics.

“For many multicultural consumers, Internet usage is about connecting with friends and family, and to keep up on the latest trends and news,” said Denise Marks, Vice President of Diversity Research at Synovate. “As more Hispanics and African-Americans spend time online, marketing efforts should be directed towards building trust among these consumers to help them feel comfortable about online commercial transactions.”

Synovate surveyed a total of 4,000 males and females ages 18 and older across the U.S., including approximately 1,000 “general market” respondents, 1,000 African-Americans and 2,000 Hispanics.

Although younger people across all groups are much more likely to be online, Synovate found major differences, including between males and females of the same age and ethnic group.

While about one in four Hispanics, African-Americans and general market consumers have visited YouTube.com in the past six months, African-American and Hispanic males ages 18-34 were more likely to have visited YouTube than their female counterparts, according to the study.

Among African-Americans, 55% of males and 33% of females visited YouTube, while among Hispanics, 41% of males and 20% of females visited the site. This differs from the general market, for which visiting this Web site was equally popular between males and females in the same age group.

For Hispanics, this gender disparity also appears to extend to social networking sites such as MySpace.com and Facebook.com. Hispanic females were significantly less likely than Hispanic males to have visited social networking Web sites recently, with 18% of women and 27% of men claiming to have visited them. This is in sharp contrast to African-American and general market men and women, who were equally as likely to have visited MySpace or Facebook.

The differences in online behavior are especially prevalent with online shopping, Synovate found. Among general market consumers, 57% have made a recent purchase online, while only 42% of African-Americans and one quarter of Hispanics have done the same.

The gap is apparently even larger with eBay visits. Less than three out of ten African-Americans and Hispanics have visited eBay in the past six months, versus 41% of the general market population.

Hispanics also lag behind other groups in adopting online banking, with only 24% claiming to have paid monthly bills online recently compared to 38% of general market consumers and 34% of African-Americans.

While Hispanics overall are less likely to own financial products such as bank accounts and credit cards, their lower use of online banking may also be due to the fact that only 59% of Hispanics have Internet access at home, work, school, or through other means. This is substantially lower than the African-American and general market populations, of which at least 80% have Internet access.

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