Reaching Hispanics Online, Part II: AOL Latino Publisher Mark Lopez Takes an Inside Peek at the Exploding Marketplace

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With nearly 43 million* Hispanics currently residing in the U.S., this demographic continues to be the largest growing minority in the country. Yet targeting this community has sometimes posed a challenge for marketers because of language barriers and cultural differences.

While traditional methods such as television, radio or newspaper ads are effective approaches to market to this growing audience, engaging this community through mediums like the Internet can have a major impact on marketers’ strategies as well.

Currently, Hispanic purchasing power in the U.S. is more than $700 billion and like never before, the Internet is influencing major purchase decisions among Hispanics.

The AOL Latino 2006 Hispanic Cyberstudy, conducted by Synovate, shows that 68% of online Hispanics make final purchase decisions on the Internet — up from 51% in 2004. Seventy-seven (77%) use the medium to learn about products — up from 61% in 2004.

Everyday, more and more Hispanics get online. According to Synovate’s 2006 U.S. Diversity Markets Report, there are more than 16 million Hispanics online or 55% of the total U.S. Hispanic population. Of those 16 million, 77% have access to broadband. As this community becomes more familiar with the Internet, marketers must face many important questions such as, what language should be utilized when targeting this community, English or Spanish? What websites do Hispanics target? Should companies adjust their marketing messages for this community?

Acculturation: Defining the Marketplace

Unlike the general online population, Hispanics have rapidly embraced the medium and bypassed the “baby-steps.” Those who have recently discovered the Web, did so through broadband and not the traditional dial-up services. They watch and send video content, send instant messages and even talk on the phone via the Internet. However, looking at the Hispanic online market in a new way, might help marketers better understand how to effectively target the diversity among this population.

According to the 2006 AOL Latino Hispanic Cyberstudy, habit and cultural relevancy define Internet usage for Hispanics. Mostly acculturated, partially acculturated and relatively unacculturated online Hispanics consume the Internet in different ways, offering new options to marketers wanting to reach the Hispanic market.

The study shows that 81% of Hispanics online are mostly acculturated or partially acculturated, while only 19% is relatively unacculturated. But being acculturated doesn’t necessarily mean English is the language of choice. Nearly half of the acculturated segment find Spanish content appealing; of the unacculturated segment 37% prefer both languages. Of the total Hispanic online population, only 15% prefer Spanish only. It’s all about finding the right balance.

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