Younger Hispanics Respond Better To Bilingual Online Marketing

Marketers should speak to acculturated Hispanic consumers in English and Spanish in Web-based social media in order to more closely match such consumers' off-line experiences.

That is one of the conclusions Boston-based social media company Communispace reached in a study of how Hispanic consumers participate in Web-based forums.

The firm found that regardless of age, income, primary language, gender or generation, Hispanics are more willing to espouse ideas and commentary in a private, online forum than participants in English-language communities.

But second-generation Hispanics are less likely to participate in such forums than their first-generation counterparts. The firm says that is because they may feel less comfortable communicating in Spanish-only environments than in bilingual ones.

Katrina Lerman, a researcher at the firm, said the group garnered the results from data about participants in forums for a hospitality company and a personal care company. "It was a matter of pulling data we have available on the back end around how often they visit the communities and how much they do when they are there," she says, adding that the study incorporated data from more than 1,000 people.



She says that bilingual Hispanic consumers' level of participation in forums was higher in bilingual and English-language forums than in Spanish-only forums. "That's a better reflection of their outside lives," she says, "especially among the younger generation raised writing and speaking English in schools." She adds that the results were independent of participants' socioeconomic background.

The nine-year-old company, which creates live, facilitated forums for the likes of Kraft, Hewlett-Packard, Charles Schwab, Hallmark and Unilever, said in the study that second-generation Hispanics are often less proficient at writing Spanish than at speaking it.

Diane Tarr-Smith, vice president of marketing at the firm, says Communispace is "also focusing on African-American consumers, and global communities." She said the agency has a "major shoe manufacturer" client for which it is running communities representing 60 countries. "All participants are bilingual and it is facilitated in English," she says.

According to The Conference Board's report "The Hispanic Market in 2010," there will be 13.5 million Hispanic households in the U.S. by 2010, more than doubling the number of Hispanic households in 1990 and up from around 10 million now. The board says Hispanic households will control $670 billion in personal income by then.

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