eMarketer estimates there are nearly 30 million Hispanic internet users in the US this year. Hispanics are underrepresented online, with less than 60% accessing the internet at least monthly, compared with 76% of non-Hispanic whites and 63.8% of blacks. And according to June 2010 data from the Associated Press and Univision, online Hispanics spend more time with English-language content on the web than with Spanish-language sites and information.
Hispanics were also significantly more likely to report spending no time using the Spanish-language internet, at 53%, vs. just 32% who said they spent no time on English-language sites.
This research falls in line with earlier studies, such as one published in 2009 by Ipsos that found 59% of Hispanic men and 51% of Hispanic women preferred English on the internet. Even 10% of respondents whose primary language was Spanish would rather go online in English, according to that study.
But attitudinal research shows that marketers must still reach out to Hispanics in Spanish. Experian Simmons found in December 2009 that more than two in five Hispanics felt Spanish-language advertising is a sign that companies respect their heritage, and nearly as many said they were more loyal toward companies that show such respect. Spanish-language ads were unsurprisingly more important to Spanish-dominant consumers than to fluent English speakers, but solid percentages of all Hispanics care when marketers make the effort to connect with them through their own language and culture.
That also means Spanish-language marketing content should not appear second best. Unfortunately, however, that is increasingly the case.
As eMarketer senior analyst Lisa Phillips wrote in May, “many of the Spanish-version sites are lagging behind their English counterparts. According to AOL’s Hispanic Cyberstudy, one-quarter of Hispanic Internet users say they could not do all the same things on a Spanish-language site that they could do on the corresponding English-language site.”