According to comScore, in the past 12 months, the U.S. Hispanic online market has grown significantly while the U.S. general online market has actually declined.
US Online market growth by segment May 2010 - May 2011
As Hispanics become more comfortable and trusting of the Internet, they will also explore retail websites to research and purchase products. In fact, this is already happening:
Retail websites traffic growth by segment May 2010 - May 2011
So which online retailers are benefiting from this growth? I analyzed the five most visited retail sites and found that for three of them, Netflix.com, BestBuy.com and Walmart.com are taking advantage of the booming Hispanic online market. The other two, Amazon.com and Target.com, actually saw declines in overall traffic, including among Hispanics. Below I'll try to explain what is taking place, but first let's take a look at the data, which shows traffic growth by segment from May 2010 - May 2011 for each retailer:
The clear winner of this group is Netflix, which has experienced meteoric growth among Spanish preferring and bilingual Hispanics in the past year. Spanish preferring and bilingual online Hispanics are young and very likely to have kids representing a strong segment for Netflix. Although Netflix.com does not offer a Spanish language experience on its website, it did proactively target Hispanics via online advertising in the past year.
Next to Netflix, Bestbuy.com had a strong year across all Hispanic online market segments. Of the large online retailers, Best Buy is the only one to offer a complete Spanish language version of its website. It also draws traffic to the site through an integrated Spanish language marketing effort.
Rounding out the list of winners is Wal-Mart who posted gains in Hispanic visitors while non-Hispanic traffic declined. Walmart.com does offer Spanish content on its website through its "Ahorra más. Vive mejor campaign" and also markets aggressively in Spanish.
As for those sites that experienced declines in traffic?
Both Amazon.com and Target.com experienced drops in non-Hispanic traffic over the past twelve months, but it is surprising that they saw declines across most Hispanic online segments. Then again, neither offers a Spanish language experience and their site or executes a targeted Hispanic online advertising.
The data shows that online retailers should consider putting up a "Se habla español" sign.
In most cases I don't think it makes sense to provide a complete Spanish language version of an e-commerce site, but targeted Hispanic advertising including social media, Spanish language customer support and relevant Spanish language content can go a long way in building relationships with online Hispanics.