Online Retailers Should Put Up A 'Se Habla Espanol' Sign

by , Jul 14, 2011, 8:22 AM
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As a follow up to my last post, "Five Reasons for Using Spanish to Reach Hispanics Online," I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the Hispanic e-commerce landscape given that few leading online retailers are proactively targeting Spanish preferring and bilingual online Hispanics. The results should be eye opening for online retailers.

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

  • Non-Hispanic -2%
  • Hispanic English 12%
  • Hispanic Bilingual 21%
  • Hispanic Spanish 17%

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

  • Non-Hispanic 7%
  • Hispanic English 22%
  • Hispanic Bilingual 28%
  • Hispanic Spanish 27%

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:

Netflix.com

  • Non-Hispanic 51%
  • Hispanic English 36%
  • Hispanic Bilingual 122%
  • Hispanic Spanish 208%

Bestbuy.com

  • Non-Hispanic 16%
  • Hispanic English 37%
  • Hispanic Bilingual 30%
  • Hispanic Spanish 45%

WalMart.com

  • Non-Hispanic -8%
  • Hispanic English 12%
  • Hispanic Bilingual 22%
  • Hispanic Spanish 14%

Amazon.com

  • Non-Hispanic -2%
  • Hispanic English -6%
  • Hispanic Bilingual 5%
  • Hispanic Spanish -4%

Target.com

  • Non-Hispanic -18%
  • Hispanic English -17%
  • Hispanic Bilingual -4%
  • Hispanic Spanish -8%

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.

0 comments on "Online Retailers Should Put Up A 'Se Habla Espanol' Sign ".

  1. Blas Giffuni from Blue Advertising Inc
    commented on: July 14, 2011 at 2:38 p.m.

    Great Article Lee, however I have some comments but before I write I have to say that this is my vision as US Hispanic marketer and not my current role and the company I work for.

    I agree that US-Hispanic eCommerce penetration is growing at a faster rate and a big chunk of it is because acculturation processes and getting more informed with the internet, however, US-Hispanics might be afraid of clikcing the tiny link that says "en espaƱol" -when available. For the last 20 years these tiny link provide nothing else than a really inferior, out of date experience for Spanish preferred users.

    You mentioned "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 ..." as a general global usability practice why are you driving users to a site that is not able to talk to them? what kind of conversion and ROI could a company get from an Spanish-centric markeitng idea if it's going to generate the same problem I mentioned earlier?

    A major problem I see is that companies are afraid of letting the general market know that they offer a multi-lingual experience, I believe that the 2010 census gives you a close to 30% of potential reasons to do it. On the other hand multichanel bureaucratic mentality hurts the overall business or why companies that really engage US-Hispanics with good marketing campaigns "forget" to add the Spanish enabled website URL? I'd think this is the best way to drive direct traffic for those sites.

    Your main point is a clear as possible if you target US-Hispanics, let them know and if you don't, your competitor is eating your lunch!

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