In this article, Tony D´Andrea (photo) Director of Planning and Research at The San Jose Group, talks about how Hispanics are embracing digital media. D'Andrea places strong emphasis on how Hispanics increasingly are buying goods and services online.

It’s no news that Hispanics are matching and even exceeding the rest of the nation in terms of online engagement. But what is surprising is that they join the Internet at a rate four times faster than the national average. Forty million Latinos will be actively online by the mid 2010s. In fact, 86% of Latinos already have broadband connection at home, and 78% use the Internet as a primary source of information, according to recent research by Google. They read, share and download online content at high levels: 64% watch online videos compared to 50% of the general market. As the youngest ethnic group in America (age 27 versus 37 as the national average), Latinos are rapidly embracing digital media for shopping and entertainment.

As a news source, the Internet is already pulling them away from print. About half claim to be watching online news more regularly than in the previous year, even as TV remains the most important news source, followed by radio. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the large majority of Latinos (about 60%) say that the Internet is their first source of information for shopping. These findings are repeated study after study, and show that the “digital divide” between high- and low-income Latinos is rapidly shrinking.

Latinos are open to online advertising, particularly Spanish-speaking consumer. 51% of foreign-born Latinos click on ads compared to 41% among English-dominant Hispanics. Moreover, Hispanics are more predisposed to buy a product following an online ad; in fact 22% more likely than the general market, according to studies by Google. Language seems to underlie an important factor driving this behavior choice, as many feel more comfortable using English online rather than over the phone with a customer service representative. While 75% of Latinos are bilingual, only a quarter prefer English over Spanish. Finally, it must be considered that, because the Hispanic media space online is significantly smaller and less congested than the general market, ad recall and likeability are consequently higher. Overall, there is a pent-up demand in the Hispanic population for online quality content in Spanish.

Traditional marketers must now include digital assets in their Hispanic marketing media mix. It is about time to abandon outdated preconceptions that Latinos are computer averse, as a wealth of evidence points to the contrary. Because of their younger age along with language issues, Latinos are eager for information and engagement online. We’ve been examining successful cases of Hispanic digital marketing in the SJG blog, and will remain an important topic of discussion and action as Hispanics take part in the ongoing electronic consumer revolution.

Tony D’Andrea is Director of Planning and Research atThe San Jose Group, headquartered in Chicago. As a strategic planner and anthropologist, Anthony has over 8 years of consulting experience integrating research insights into effective strategies. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, and a BBA in Business from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

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