May 15, 2008
By Leslie Berestein
A growing number of Latino consumers in San Diego County own computers and connect to the Internet, and the majority absorb media and advertising in a half-and-half mix of English and Spanish, according to a survey of Latinos in 18 ZIP codes in the county.
However, home ownership in the region's still-costly real estate market remained out of reach for many respondents.
The San Diego “Ask Hispanics” survey was conducted this spring by Meneses Research & Associates, a San Diego-based firm that does market research in cities with large Latino populations. The firm conducted similar studies in San Diego in 2006 and 2004.
This year's survey is based on a small sample, 643 individuals ages 18 and older who identified themselves as Latino or Hispanic and lived in 18 of the county's more than 110 ZIP codes. About 29 percent of the county's population is Hispanic, or about 900,000 people.
Among those interviewed this year, 81 percent said they owned computers, as opposed to 58 percent in 2004. Seventy-three percent said they connect to the Internet compared with 53 percent four years ago.
While in 2004, 17 percent said they intended to soon purchase a computer in 2004, this year 35 percent said they planned to buy a computer in the coming months.
While more respondents said they watched television primarily in Spanish, most radio listeners and print-media readers said they consumed media in equal amounts of English and Spanish. Eighty-two percent said they preferred to receive advertising in both languages.
Forty-four percent this year identified themselves as U.S. citizens, an additional 39 percent as legal residents and 4 percent as other visa holders; 13 percent identified themselves as undocumented.
The respondents were likely to be renters. Seventy-six percent this year said they rented; in 2004, 71 percent said they were renters. Still, when asked if they would consider buying property in less-expensive Baja California, the majority said they were not interested.
Forty-six percent were born in the United States, 28 percent of those in the San Diego region. Of the respondents born abroad, the vast majority were Mexican by birth; 24 percent were born in Tijuana.
Close cross-border ties set San Diego's Latino community apart from those in other large cities, said Walter Meneses, who runs the research firm. Nearly half the respondents this year said they had a relative in Tijuana or elsewhere in Baja California, and ties like these help fuel San Diego's retail economy, he said.
“Residents from Tijuana, most who have the means, will cross to go shopping,” he said. “Go to Macy's (in Fashion Valley) and see the Baja California license plates.”
San Diego residents also go south on a regular basis. Out of the sample, 22 percent said they crossed into Tijuana at least once a week – and when coming back to the United States, 80 percent said they waited one to four hours.
Such long waits are indeed the norm, said Jason Wells, executive director of the chamber of commerce in San Ysidro, an area whose retail businesses have been hit hard by reduced cross-border shopping traffic.
“That is exactly right,” he said of the waits reported in the survey. “You are praying for one hour.”
Source: The San Diego Union Tribune