Emerging markets have become an increasingly important audience for today’s marketers, as they offer significant new avenues for revenue. Traditionally, marketers would create buyer personas and place consumers into buckets to drive targeted marketing campaigns, but this approach doesn’t take into account the unique needs and personalities of cross-cultural consumers. In fact, addressing cultural markets is a self-proclaimed weak point for many marketers. But by ignoring these audiences, marketers are missing out on huge opportunities.
As an example, take the Hispanic American population, which is the fastest-growing, most-connected audience on the planet. Today there are 56 million Hispanics living in the U.S. alone and that number is expected to swell to 119 million by 2060. What’s more, 60% are of the millennial generation or younger, changing the techniques marketers must use to engage this demographic. In today’s digital world, consumers expect a consistent and well-branded omni-channel experience or they’ll quickly lose interest and move on to a competitor. Hispanics are early digital adopters, meaning brands need to be ahead of the curve when targeting this population and make the experience every bit as relevant as it would be to the traditional buyer.
So how can brands get there? The first thing to consider is language. U.S. Hispanics hail from more than 20 countries and speak dozens of languages and dialects. If your company is promoting content primarily in English, it is important to understand that 70% of web users are not native English speakers. This means that Hispanics live with language barriers every day that disjoint engagements and experiences with the companies they want to do business with. Another telling statistic is that 75% of non-native English speakers will not purchase from an English-only platform. According to a recent study we conducted with the International Customer Management Institute, 60% of customers expect service from a brand to be delivered in their native language, and the expectation is that content will be available in their local languages as well. So what does this mean? In short, there are incredible opportunities to localize content to not only meet consumer expectations, but drive sales and revenue.
And if that’s not enough, Hispanic Americans hold $1.5 trillion (and counting) in buying power. Will that staggering figure convince you that you need to address this market?
Localizing web content is an essential first step to engaging Hispanic Americans. They are heavy web users and use mobile and desktop devices to compare prices, learn about brands and make purchases. When it comes to the web, brands need to treat their unique markets equally by providing complete information, in whichever way they want to consume it. This is, unfortunately, easier said than done.
Let’s look at a major cosmetics brand as an example of what not to do when engaging with the Hispanic-American market. This brand decided to serve all Hispanics by driving them to a localized website for Mexico. But Mexicans make up just a portion of the total market, with most of their actual target customers speaking different dialects of Spanish. This was a major opportunity that was missed by a brand not meeting their customers’ unique needs with little attempt to localize content. Localization must take into account the unique cultural nuances of a language, the values of the buyer and most importantly, make the potential buyer feel comfortable with the content so they can confidently make a purchase.
In general, Hispanic Americans recognize the disparity between the availability of English and Spanish language content. They perceive English sites as more detailed and useful than their Spanish-language counterparts. In very few cases are Spanish web properties as comprehensive as English, which provides a frustrating experience for customers who aren’t bilingual.
As marketing content increasingly becomes more and more digital, agencies and marketing departments need to develop project plans to include time for translation to meet the demand for faster speed to market. Language service providers have evolved to create advanced translation platforms to increase the efficiency of the translation process through automation, for both small and large projects alike. A critical component is that these systems account for the cultural nuances and dialects that are so important to servicing specific markets.
Marketing agencies and departments can even use these platforms as self-service portals to submit and track localization projects. In addition, they can obtain instant quotes and turnaround times, eliminating much of the back and forth between the project manager and localization team. Advances in digital technology, translation workflow tools and backend algorithms allow these platforms to be used for all types of content including text, multimedia, web content, social, apps and more. With these services being readily available, there is no excuse to underserve a market where an enormous opportunity lies.
Many companies are already appropriately engaging the Hispanic American marketplace. For those that are yet to take the leap, developing a localized content strategy should be their number one priority. Taking the time and effort to address the unique needs of an emerging market will undoubtedly drive sales, revenue and overall brand loyalty. How will you transform the way you engage with these valuable customers?