Minorities Boost Web Shopping

New numbers from the Census Bureau show that the overall growth of the online population in the U.S. is stagnating, and most future growth will come from increases in minority audiences including Hispanics, blacks, seniors and children. The report from eMarketer shows that Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, and their numbers are expected to grow by nearly 10 million people between 2010 and 2014. Next year, 62.9 percent of the US Hispanic population, or 32.2 million Hispanics will be online, the online research site says. The results of the 2010 census could push those estimates up even further.

While the bureau has consistently projected strong growth within minority populations through 2050, the new figures for all races may change more than the bureau projected. The census’s open-ended questions on racial and ethnic background, including a write-in answer for filers who did not feel their background could be explained by a single check box answer, caused much confusion and comment, eMarketer says. It is still unclear how respondents identified themselves and their families. The African-American Internet user population is somewhat smaller but also on the rise, and it is forecast that nearly 26 million blacks will go online at least monthly in 2011, for a penetration rate of 66.9 percent. By 2014, that number will jump to 72.3 percent.

“These audiences appreciate genuine efforts by marketers to understand them and communicate messages that resonate, which means more than including a demographically diverse cast in a mainstream television commercial or high gloss magazine ad,” says Lisa E. Phillips, senior analyst at eMarketer. “Brands that ignore the multicultural audience will find themselves ignored by a powerful segment of the population.”