The U.S. Census data is finally becoming available to the American public, and it has revealed what many of us only previously guessed to be true: Hispanics are now the largest growing demographic in the U.S. In fact, the new count shows that one in every six Americans is of Hispanic decent. So it only stands to reason that marketers should be seriously turning their attention to the increasing number of Spanish-speaking online users now looking for entertainment venues online.
Of course Spanish-speaking users aren't only found in the U.S. - they are all over the world. There are many companies that have been targeting multi-lingual audiences for years, so this really isn't anything new for them. However the difference here is that these Spanish-speaking users are Americans who play by Western rules as far as Internet usage, credit card processing preferences, spending habits and more are concerned. While the Hispanic culture stands out and is different from most other U.S. demographics in many ways, these are still American citizens and they will behave much differently from Hispanics in Mexico, South America and in Europe.
While Hispanic users still aren't using the Internet at the same percentage as non-Hispanic users, the numbers are increasing. In fact, Hispanic users have been shown to utilize social networking and online video much more than other non-Hispanic users - a clear pattern is emerging. A recent study conducted by OTX MediaCT and Google revealed that Spanish-dominant and bilingual Hispanic users were much more involved in the use of online video and social media networks than any other demographic currently online.
The numbers show that 64% of Hispanic users had visited an online video website in the past 30 days as compared to just 50% of the general population surveyed. Spanish-dominant Hispanics used online video even more - with 66% of them enjoying online video websites as opposed to only 61% of English-dominant Hispanics. With the exception of just one online video site - Hulu, which is marketed primarily to English-speaking users through network programming - Spanish-dominant Hispanics were much more likely than English-dominant Hispanics to have visited a list of online video websites before taking the survey.
A parallel in usage was also discovered with regard to Spanish-dominant and bilingual Hispanics and their use of social networking websites. Interestingly, it is reported the most popular website for these users was MySpace over other networks such as Facebook or Twitter. However, with regard to Facebook and other social networking sites, their usage was either slightly higher or the same as other English-dominant Hispanics as well as general broad demographic users.
Overall Hispanic Internet Usage
The information uncovered in this study is very remarkable because most Hispanics, particularly those born in other countries and those who are Spanish-dominant have previously been found to be much less likely to regularly use the Internet than other racial or ethnic groups in the U.S. For example, a survey conducted by the Washington Post revealed that 72% of Hispanic adults used the Internet on an occasional basis - 15 whole percentage points behind Caucasian Internet users. This market data is interesting because according to the recent Census information, Hispanics are the "youngest ethnic or racial group" in the US with an average age of 27. The median age for white users is 41 and it is 31 for black users. Just age alone should make the numbers for Hispanic users higher than white or black users.
Digging deeper into the differences within the Hispanic demographic, as a whole the data reveals that there is a larger divide between English-speaking Hispanics and Spanish-dominant Hispanics, as well as a divide between US-born and foreign-born Hispanics. The Pew Hispanic Research Center conducted a supporting study that showed 56% of the US Hispanic population that is aged 16 or older was born in a foreign country. However, the usage data shows that Hispanics that are native-born American citizens who speak English as their primary language have a drastically higher Internet usage rate than any other demographic. The big drop-off that causes the overall figures to be much lower is with the Spanish-dominant foreign-born Hispanics living in the U.S.
The Pew study also included factors such as education and income levels, revealing that language-speaking abilities and nativity to the U.S. were also influences in these areas. Access to broadband connections, via the home and/or mobile device usage, also played a part in Internet usage habits, and were directly tied to language, nativity, education and income.
The Bottom Line
Analysts believe that because of its broad-reaching abilities, social networking and online video sites are unique tools that can be used to reach Hispanics who might otherwise be shy or insecure about using the Internet. There are a couple of reasons why Spanish-dominant Hispanics are turning to online video - such as the large availability of Spanish-language content as well as the ability to learn English and American slang terms by watching online video, helping them to overcome prevalent language barriers.
Social networking is a popular medium for Hispanics across the board, however, as it makes it easy to keep in contact with friends and family. These social networking tools are used within the country to communicate locally, but also to stay in touch with friends and family that are living in other countries outside the U.S.
So how are you marketing to the Hispanic population online? What are your successes and challenges, and how have you achieved your successes? What are some of your specific demographic innovations in the sales and conversion process? Is translation enough, or have you included other factors in your marketing mix?