While Hispanics are online at roughly the same usage rates as the general market, e-commerce has remained underdeveloped. The reason for this is that Hispanic consumer confidence in online transactions remains low. While some have tried to launch major e-commerce hubs, like Amazon or eBay, that cater specifically to the Hispanic market, many have failed in recent years. Univision, the premiere Spanish-language media company in the country, just recently announced that it will try again.
However, any company that makes a serious commitment to the Hispanic market must commit to an in-language web strategy at some level. There are two ways to enter the market with an in-language web campaign, and really no in-between: passive and active.
A passive strategy typically includes an in-language URL that mirrors the content of the company's general market site. The more content you make available in Spanish, the more you demonstrate your respect for the market. You may not actively market the site or drive traffic with online activity, but at the very least you are able to pay off or fulfill the need for more info.
An active strategy should include a Hispanic-specific marketing hub that serves as a unique resource for the Spanish language-dependent consumer. This approach is best when used to support highly targeted creative that is designed to promote a paid web campaign and community building. A truly Hispanic-focused web campaign should also take cultural, culinary, and customer service to a more relevant marketing level than a company's general market website. Categories such as food and kitchen appliances offer a unique opportunity to drive home the application of a product by appealing to Hispanic consumers' tastes, customs, recipes and food prep culture.
Additionally, internet strategy for active campaigns should be expanded to "digital" strategy, meaning that it should include mobile marketing as a key component. Spanish speaking internet users are largely acculturated, meaning that they have as much or more access to general market search engines and browsers as they do Spanish sites. The same is not true of mobile campaigns. Smartphones are fast becoming the primary gateway to the Internet for less acculturated Hispanic consumers. Low-tech social functions, such as texting, are creating a new frontier for reaching Hispanic consumers.
While all advertising campaigns require a unique approach, one golden rule applies to in-language campaigns just as surely as it applies to general market campaigns: know your consumer and speak directly to them; they will be sure to respond.