Language Influences Search Behavior Among Hispanic, Asian Consumers

Search behavior is driven by language for many Hispanic consumers. Lack of fluency or not speaking English is the top reason why U.S. Hispanic households ask a relative to search online for a product or a service, and not feeling comfortable doing research online also is a factor. 

Some 81% of Hispanic consumers who responded to a survey from 9thWonder and ThinkNow, released Wednesday, said relatives who are not fluent in English ask them to go online and research a purchase for them.

More than half reported that this happens “regularly” or “fairly often,” according to the 2020 Guide To Hispanic Digital Purchase Behavior.

The report, based on a study of 500 Hispanic-American adults, found that significant percentages of product search queries are handled by relatives inside and outside the U.S. households, or even from other countries.

About 57% said requests come from relatives in their household, while 54% reported they come from U.S. relatives not in their household and 24% said they received requests from relatives outside the U.S., according to findings from ThinkNow and 9thWonder.

Few marketers consider using Spanish keywords on both English and Spanish browsers, and English keywords on Spanish browsers, but Maria Twena, global head of the Latin X practice at 9thWonder, believes it is the best strategy.

Only about half of Hispanic consumers search online in English, according to the study, and the rest use both English and Spanish or Spanish alone. The key is to use 80% non-brand terms versus 20% brand terms, and include as many keywords as possible, including bilingual terms.  

Whether respondents are Spanish Dominant or Bilingual/English Dominant, they are regularly conducting searches for multiple relatives in a variety of locations.

Geography, language and country of origin play an important role in accurately analyzing the data. More than half of the people taking the survey were born in the U.S., but many more than that number opted to take the survey in English.

The findings suggest that some of the respondents who were born outside of the U.S. most likely came to the U.S. before the age of 10, and that their primary socialization took place in the U.S.

Many Hispanic consumers alternate between speaking English and Spanish. Some 52% mostly conducted product research in English or on English-language websites.

About 25% conducted product research in both English and their relative’s preferred language, while some 23% mostly did the research in their relative’s preferred language.

The study suggests that marketers who are not using a dual-language search strategy as a part of their marketing efforts may be losing half the Hispanic market before even getting started.

The study focused mostly on Hispanics, but many concepts are not exclusive to those consumers. A survey of Asian-Americans found that 75% of the Asian-Americans reported helping relatives who were not fluent English speakers with online research.

Relatives in the household and outside the U.S. were the ones they were more likely to help, similar to the Spanish Dominant Hispanic group in this survey.

Some 66% of the Asian-American respondents reported doing product research on behalf of their relatives in English or on English-language sites.

The next most common way was to use online translation services, with 13% reporting that they simply shared the information in English, compared with 6% for Hispanic respondents. Some 56% said they typically make purchases on an English-language site on behalf of a relative.

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