June 1, 2006

Latinos and cell phones

New York Times reporter Ken Belson noticed part of our recent report on how Americans use and think about their cell phones in which we made reference to the fact that Latinos stood out in some respects from whites in the ways they used their mobile phones. Belson wrote a piece with Matt Richtel about the trend and how cell companies are making special efforts to market to Latinos. Here is some of the material we provided from our surveys that played into the themes of the story:

English-speaking adult Hispanics are no more likely than whites to own cell phones: 75% of whites own cells, 72% of Latinos (a statistically insignificant difference).

Cell-owning Hispanics are no more emotionally attached to their cell phones than white: 55% of Hispanics say it would be hard to give up their cells and 51% of cell-owning whites say that. Again, that is a statistically insignificant difference.

At the same time, Latinos are a bit more likely than whites only to have a cell phone (i.e. they have no landline phone): 31% of Latinos only have a cell phone, compared to 22% of whites.

And, among those in our sample who have both cell and landline phones, Latinos are more likely than whites to say they make most of their calls on their cell phones.

The cell phones that Latinos have are often to use their cell phones for all kinds of activities. For instances, Latino cell owners are more likely than whites to use their cells to:

  • take still pictures: 56% of cell-owning Latinos do that, compared to 26% of cell-owning whites
  • use text messaging: 54% of cell-owning Latinos do that, compared to 31% of cell-owning whites
  • play games: 40% of cell-owning Latinos do that, compared to 20% of cell-owning whites
  • surf the internet: 29% of cell-owning Latinos do that, compared to 12% of cell-owning whites
  • play music files: 16% of cell-owning Latinos do that, compared to 5% of cell-owning whites
  • send/receive email: 16% of cell-owning Latinos do that, compared to 7% of cell-owning whites
  • record video clips: 15% of cell-owning Latinos do that, compared to 5% of cell-owning whites

In addition, Hispanic cell phone owners are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to have experienced or felt a variety of things about their cells. For instance, Latino cell owners are more likely than whites to:

  • Feel their cell phone helped them in emergency situations: 83% of cell-owning Latinos say that, compared to 73% of cell-owning whites
  • Use their cell phones to fill up free time while they are traveling or waiting for someone: 57% of cell-owning Latinos say that, compared to 38% of cell-owning whites
  • Be shocked at the size of a monthly phone bill: 57% of cell-owning Latinos say that, compared to 32% of cell-owning whites
  • Feel pressured to answer their cell phone even when it interrupts them: 36% of cell-owning Latinos say that, compared to 21% of cell-owning whites
  • Feel that ownership of a cell phone allows too many people to get in touch with them: 37% of cell-owning Latinos say that, compared to 19% of cell-owning whites
  • To say they are not entirely truthful in telling others where they are when they are reached on a cell phone: 39% of cell-owning Latinos say that, compared to 18% of cell-owning whites.

There are a couple of caveats to sound about our data. The surveys I cite here are only conducted with English-speaking Latinos and we only talk to people 18 and older. In addition, the cell survey was administered to a national, random, representative sample of 1503 people. Of them 121 identified themselves as Hispanic. So, the sample from which these data are extracted is not terribly big. I’ve cited only the differences between Latinos and whites that are statistically significant. The margin of error on a sample of 121 people is plus or minus 10 points.