Amazon Opens Its Doors To Millions Of Hispanic Shoppers

  • by , Columnist, April 13, 2017

Last month, Amazon quietly rolled out a Spanish-language version of and in turn, helped dispel the myth that because Hispanics are young and the majority are U.S. born, there is no reason to communicate with them in Spanish.

Amazon’s statement is clear: Marketing to Spanish-preferring online Hispanics makes good business sense.

As a data-driven, consumer-first company, Amazon undoubtedly assessed the Spanish-language e-commerce opportunity rigorously and likely found that there is a critical mass of highly engaged online shoppers who prefer Spanish.

According to CNET, there are “more than 40 million native Spanish speakers and over 10 million bilingual Hispanics in the U.S.,” making the U.S. the “second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, after Mexico.”

Not only is there a critical mass of Spanish-speaking consumers online in the U.S., they are more likely to shop online when compared to the general market. A recent IRI study found that “Hispanics tend to shop online more than non-Hispanics in several critical categories, including cosmetics, fragrances and beauty, and general household products.”



Amazon’s move to proactively market to Spanish-preferring Hispanics will trigger an e-commerce renaissance in the Hispanic market. E-commerce players large and small will rush to develop and execute Spanish strategies to reach Spanish-preferring Hispanics and manufacturers will move to market and merchandise their products to this segment via the digital shelf.

As with any renaissance, there will be winners and losers when it comes to Spanish-language e-commerce. The winners will be those that take a strategic, measured, long-term approach to this opportunity and invest in it appropriately. Winners will deeply understand the consumer and develop plans for providing them with value across the path-to-purchase. It will be tempting for many to just translate into Spanish and hope they will come, but this approach is likely to be short-lived.

Smart marketers will take note of Amazon’s firm stake in the ground and get serious about reaching U.S. Hispanics in Spanish long term. We’ll leave you with this stat from the Pew Hispanic Center: 82% of Latino adults in the U.S. speak Spanish, and 95% believe it’s important for future generations to continue to do so. Will your digital marketing efforts reflect the cultural insight Amazon exposed?

1 comment about "Amazon Opens Its Doors To Millions Of Hispanic Shoppers".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Edward Rincon from Rincon & Associates LLC, April 13, 2017 at 12:49 p.m.

    Lee, your commentary about the cultural insight "exposed" by Amazon's Spanish-language strategy was quite interesting, especially given the demographic trends that have been taking place in the U.S. The reality is that Amazon is a late entrant into the Spanish-language world and will likely discover that the long-term picture for Spanish-language media is not as rosy as you have described it. Consider the following facts:

    1. The future growth of U.S. Latinos is being fueled by the children of immigrants, who are primariy English-speaking (Pew Research)
    2. The proportion of Latino immigrants in the U.S. has been declining due to many political and demographic factors. As a result, the audiences for Spanish-language media -- newspapers, radio, television, magazines, etc. -- have also been declining. (State of the News Media, Pew Research Center 2015)
    3. While the American Community Survey 2015 confirms that there are 37.5 million Latinos (5 years or older) that "speak Spanish," this number is vague and misleading.The ACS does not ask how well they speak Spanish, so if a person speaks a couple of words in Spanish, then they are considered a "Spanish speaker." Speaking some Spanish has little to do with interest in navigating a web site in Spanish that requires Spanish reading skills. Most U.S. Latinos do not study Spanish formally in school and become linguisticaly assimilated by the third generation.
    4. Perhaps the Amazon action will trigger an "e-commerce renaissance" and encourage more manufacturers to add a Spanish-language strategy. This has always made good business sense if your target audience includes U.S. immigrants or audiences in other countries.

    It would be a mistake, however, for marketers to think that a linguistic strategy is the magic bullet to capture Latino consumers. For several decades, Univision attempted to convince Corporate America that Spanish was the key to the U.S. Latino consumer, although their strategy has expanded in recent years to include English-language strategies that capture the growing native-born Latino segment.

    As a research firm that has conducted numerous studies of multicultural consumers over the past 40 years, we advise marketers to focus on the cognitive, affective and behavioral characteristics that are most relevant to a specific product or service category. The specific language behavior of multicultural consumers will continue to evolve over time, and should always be a consideration in a communications strategy to reach these consumers, but should not be the primary driver in a marketing or advertising campaign.

    Amazon is a powerhouse and will definitely benefit from the addition of a Spanish-language strategy in markets or countries that are primarily dependent on Spanish-language communications.

Next story loading loading..