Latinas’ Language Preferences in Media (Spoiler Alert: Spanish is Important)

What: Portada looked at data about the language in which Latinas prefer to consume media and found an interesting relationship between acculturation and language preference.
Why it matters: Language preference is one of the key factors to take into account when marketing to multicultural audiences, but it needs to be tackled wisely in order to actually succeed.

As we have seen before, acculturation plays an important role in the way Latinas, bread-earners and decision-makers of the Hispanic household, see the world and interact with it. While more acculturated Latinas have a higher interest in art, less acculturated Latinas are more optimistic, but family is a priority for all of them. In general, more acculturation is negatively correlated with the use of Spanish, but it's not as black and white as it might seem.

In the tables below, we can see the role of English and Spanish in speaking, and in the consumption of different media, such as TV, radio, online, and reading. Interestingly, “only Spanish” over-indexes substantially less for TV watching and radio listening compared to “online” and “reading”. Therefore, both Spanish-language print and digital media are particularly appropriate media vehicles to reach out to the Spanish-dominant Latina.

Even the overall Latina female population over-indexes in the “only Spanish” category, for both “online and “reading”, which is not the case for “listening radio” and “watching TV” (it actually under-indexes in the latter).
However, it is important to note that age is not necessarily a factor explaining language preference. As data from the Hispanic Millennial Project shows, Spanish-Language Media is key to reaching foreign-born Hispanic Millennials.

Hispanic Millennials, particularly those that are U.S. born, are most likely to indicate they consume media equally in English and Spanish (approximately 40%). Even among U.S.-born Hispanic Millennials, only 40% indicate they consume English media mostly or exclusively.

Language preferred when speaking

Hispanic Adults

18+

Female Hispanics

18+

Female Hispanics

18+ (Predominantly

Spanish)

Agree % of sample Index Agree % of sample Index Agree % of sample Vertical
Only English 1548 19.4 100 812 20 103 36 3.3 17
Mostly English, but some Spanish 2275 35.2 100 1273 35.4 101 252 12.5 35
Mostly Spanish, but some English 1529 23.1 100 835 22 95 699 38.3 166
Only Spanish 1380 17.6 100 830 19.2 109 801 44.2 252
In some other language 43 0.6 100 21 0.6 104 2 0.2 35

Source: Simmons Research, Fall 2016 National Hispanic Consumer Study

Language preferred when reading

Hispanic Adults

18+

Female Hispanics

18+

Female Hispanics

18+ (Predominantly

Spanish)

Agree % of sample Index Agree % of sample Index Agree % of sample Index
Only English 2901 39.4 100 1533 39.3 100 173 10.8 27
Mostly English, but some Spanish 1502 25.1 100 862 25.6 102 341 17 68
Mostly Spanish, but some English 979 13.9 100 556 13.3 96 493 25.6 184
Only Spanish 1366 17.5 100 805 18.7 107 771 43.8 251
In some other language 38 0.5 100 21 0.7 131 3 0.2 L47

Source: Simmons Research, Fall 2016 National Hispanic Consumer Study

Language preferred when online

Hispanic Adults

18+

Female Hispanics

18+

Female Hispanics

18+ (Predominantly

Spanish)

Agree % of sample Index Agree % of sample Index Agree % of sample Vertical
Only English 3324 45 100 1804 45 100 307 17.4 39
Mostly English, but some Spanish 1153 20 100 637 19.4 97 317 15.3 76
Mostly Spanish, but some English 691 8.7 100 393 9.3 106 363 18 206
Only Spanish 884 13 100 525 13.1 101 504 32.1 247
In some other language 33 0.7 100 17 1.0 144 3 0.7 94

Source: Simmons Research, Fall 2016 National Hispanic Consumer Study

Language preferred when listening to radio

Hispanic Adults

18+

Female Hispanics

18+

Female Hispanics

18+ (Predominantly

Spanish)

Agree % of sample Index Agree % of sample Index Agree % of sample Vertical
Only English 2059 27.5 100 1028 25.4 92 161 10.8% 39
Mostly English, but some Spanish 1929 29.9 100 1090 30.5 102 278 13.3 45
Mostly Spanish, but some English 1191 18.1 100 700 20.4 112 511 29.5 162
Only Spanish 1265 16.8 100 761 16.9 100 685 36.6 218
In some other language 34 0.5 100 16 0.6 114 2 0 3

Source: Simmons Research, Fall 2016 National Hispanic Consumer Study

Language preferred when watching TV

Hispanic Adults

18+

Female Hispanics

18+

Female Hispanics

18+ (Predominantly

Spanish)

Agree % of sample Index Agree % of sample Index Agree % of sample Index
Spanish-language labeling on products helps me select what I want 2223 30.6 100 1287 31.7 103 1011 52.4 171
I remember more about or pay more attention to the products/services that are advertised in Spanish 2048 26.7 100 1195 27.2 102 949 49.5 185
Spanish-language advertising is important to me because it's the best source of information for making purchasing decisions 1872 26 100 1069 25.4 98 863 47 181
When I hear a company advertise in Spanish, it makes me feel like they respect my heritage and want my business 2640 34.8 100 1545 37 106 1001 53.1 152
I am much more loyal towards companies that show appreciation for our culture by advertising in Spanish 2491 32.6 100 1453 36 110 947 52.3 160
It’s important to me that websites I visit are available in Spanish 1935 26.5 100 1139 29.1 110 825 46.5 176

Source: Simmons Research, Fall 2016 National Hispanic Consumer Study

As we have seen, the Spanish-preferred Latina clearly over-indexes in her positive reaction related to the use of Spanish-language in marketing, advertising and packaging messages. Interestingly, the overall Latina woman under-indexes in the response to “Spanish-language advertising is important to me as a source of information making purchasing decisions.” This means that the acculturated Latina woman clearly prefers English as the language for content to base purchase decisions on.

A 2012 Yahoo! study found that Spanish-dominant Latinas are far more likely than bilingual or English-dominant Latinas to value ads that portray their ethnicity positively (71% versus 51%) and make them feel proud of their ethnicities (76% versus 52%). Four in five first-generation Hispanics will talk about an ad that speaks positively about their ethnicity. Brands that invest in understanding what cultural passion points, traditions and rituals resonate with Spanish-dominant Latinas will see a return on their investment.

Likewise, BodenPRs, BODEN Latina Smart Purse™ found that celebrating Hispanic culture is important for Latinas: from the content she consumes to the brands she trusts and the products she buys, “In fact, 65% agree that it is important for brands to develop content specifically for Latinas, from the point of view of a Latina.” The BODEN Latina Smart Purse™ study found that Latinas are more likely to purchase from brands that invest in Latinas (77%) and their communities (87%).


Janet Grynberg @grynberg_janet

Janet has worked as editor and translator since 2013. After graduating with honors when receiving her Bachelor's Degree in English literature, she began working as a book reviewer for Expansión, the leading business magazine in Mexico. She has also worked as editor of young adult literature for publishing houses like Planeta and Penguin, and she's the author of a book of short stories. She's in the process of getting her MA in English at McGill University. Her interests include arts, good food, and her 8 pets.

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