Traditionally, Hispanics have relied on the original concept of "social networks" to gain trusted information. This draw to family and friends for sharing information and seeking guidance makes Hispanics natural players in the new consumer-driven social media arena. Hispanics influence, and are influenced, through peers more than their general market counterparts. Social networks also offer a means to communicate with family and friends with whom they are geographically separated.
A 2009 study by the Captura Group examined data from the Florida State University Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication with the support of DMS Research. Its national online sample examined nearly 2,500 people that were equally divided among the following cultural groups: Hispanics who prefer English, Hispanics who prefer Spanish, Non-Hispanic Whites, African Americans and Asians in the United States.
The findings solidified the importance of utilizing social media in building interaction with the Hispanic market. It also supports the growing awareness that one does connect with Hispanics through English language platforms.
Visits to social networking sites at least 2 to 3 times per month:
English Preferring Hispanics: 36%
Spanish Preferring Hispanics: 27%
African Americans: 26%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 18%
Regular Visits to MySpace
English Preferring Hispanics: 44%
Spanish Preferring Hispanics: 35%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 22%
Regular Visits to Facebook
English Preferring Hispanics: 18%
Spanish Preferring Hispanics: 13%
African Americans: 12%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 7%
This report offers staggering findings that will be hard for most marketers to ignore:
1. Overall Hispanic visits to social networking sites outnumbered Non-Hispanic Whites by 63% vs 18%.
2. English Preferring Hispanics were at least twice as likely to visit these popular sites than Non-Hispanic Whites
3. English Preferring Hispanics outnumbered Spanish Preferring Hispanics
4. Users 36 years old and older were nearly twice as likely to be English Preferring Hispanics (24%) vs Non-Hispanic Whites (13%).
5. Overall Hispanic usage by age 36 or older was 47% while Non-Hispanic Whites and African Americans combined reached only 30%.
The web offers few cultural or in-language options for ethnic minorities. This has fueled the trend for tapping social networks to generate original content. For businesses to connect on this level, they must be mindful of the audience's desire to connect on a personal and cultural level.
Companies such as Honda have long understood, embraced and ultimately been rewarded by their long-term loyalty of this market. When the automobile giant adopted a Hispanic effort in 1989, they saw a Hispanic Honda sales increase of 270% over the next 10 years. Even through the last recession of the early 90's, Honda's sales continuously increased when general market sales slowed (Ward Dealer Business). These active efforts have continued through a multitude of efforts that have included online campaigns to target Latino consumers. Ads promoting targeted models directed consumers to the Honda website, where they were then able to research all models in English or Spanish.
Savvy marketers understand that the term "Hispanic" refers more to a related group of cultures rather than simply to those who speak the Spanish language. The Hispanic market is 60% bilingual, while about 20% are dependent on either English or Spanish. Hispanics originate from over 20 countries; each bringing distinct language use and culture. When you then consider standard marketing targeting such as income, housing, psychographics and lifestyles, "Hispanic market" is clearly a term that requires a bit of homework and target definition.
While few marketers proactively target ethnic minorities, even fewer connect through social media. This translates into a wealth of opportunities for those that can identify meaningful ways to connect.