It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t agree that Hispanics are one of the most digitally connected demographic groups in the U.S. We’ve all seen the data –
Hispanics over-index in the adoption of technology, and in the consumption of Web, mobile and social media. I believe all of it. I see it all around me. Hispanics of all stripes – from older
recent immigrants to younger acculturated third-plus generation – are embracing digital media as a part of their everyday lives. They are using 3G and 4G smartphones to go online. They are avid
Facebook users. They are consuming digital video at record rates.
However, some important questions about Hispanic digital behavior muddy the waters beneath all this Hispanic
digital excitement. We spend a great deal of time at my agency conducting research into the digital lives of U.S. Hispanics. The more research we undertake, the more we see a complex picture emerging
of digital Hispanics. A custom research study we completed in April confirmed what we have been seeing anecdotally and informally with other research, programs and campaigns:
- Online Spanish-speakers are shifting to a preference for online content in English
- Spanish-dominant Hispanics do not express any barriers to shopping and buying
products online due to language or culture
- Bilingual and Spanish-dominant U.S. Hispanics prefer to shop and buy products on English websites
- Hispanics who
interact and function only in Spanish in their daily lives are disappearing because of their English dominated online behavior
- Only 15% of Hispanic adults would prefer to visit
the available Spanish version of a website because:
- They are comfortable with English terminology online
- They perceive English websites
have better content and functionality
- They feel many Spanish websites in the U.S. are translated poorly
Our research findings, while not
exhaustive and directional in nature, point to some top-line insights into how Hispanics’ undeniable embrace of digital media is changing the Hispanic consumer at the micro-level and the
Hispanic market at the macro-level:
- English is the language of the Web for most Hispanics, including those who are Spanish-dominant – A large part of the online
experience for Hispanics is taking place in English
- Online, culture is everything…language is increasingly less important – Passion points are critical, and
potentially the only viable way to engage Hispanics as a distinct user group online
- Increased digital usage is speeding the acculturation process for many Hispanics –
Hispanic adoption of English-centric digital behavior is making dependence on Spanish language less of an issue to U.S. Hispanics, and potentially aiding in the acculturation to life in the U.S.
So what does this mean for a marketer that wants to leverage digital to reach the lucrative Hispanic market? At a tactical level, I see three broad recommendations:
- De-emphasize creating a Spanish language website. Our research indicates it probably won’t be valued and might even hurt your cause.
- Focus on
key, distinctively Hispanic passion points – such as music, sports, food – as the strategic pillar for your Hispanic digital programs.
- Leverage the plethora of
digital targeting technology available to identify and target ads to Hispanics online, via mobile and social media.