Are Stereotypes About Minorities and the Internet Still Alive and Well?
By Terry Soto, About Marketing Solutions, Inc.
A February 24, 2005 article in Ad Age cites recent Forrester Research survey findings that over 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies lack Spanish-language Web sites, and even the other 19 percent that do often fail to offer really useful Spanish-language navigation and content online.
Could it be that the stereotype of ethnic minorities not using the Web enough to quantify a new and significant technology investment still exists? Well, consider recent research by technology-focused companies that should help to allay concerns and persistent views. The research indicates that the Hispanic community is flocking to the Internet in droves for everyday activities. Celent Communications estimates that more than 30 percent of the U.S. Hispanic community is currently online.
And according to Bank Monitor (2003), AOL and Roper ASW, in their first-ever “Hispanic Cyberstudy,” Hispanic consumers are spending an average of 24 hours a week online, while the national average is only 18 hours.
From 1998 to 2001, the Latino population registered an impressive 26 percent growth in Internet adoption rates, above the national average of 19 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Today, the market potential is immense. In January 2003, according to Media Metrix, 12.4 million U.S. Hispanic users accessed the Internet either from home, work or a university. This online population, approximately one third of all U.S. Hispanics, is larger than the total online populations of Spain or of Mexico, Argentina and Colombia combined.
The recent Forrester research cited in the Ad Age article ups that total to 13 million and adds that the largest segment – 42 percent of the online population – is Spanish-dominant, 26 percent is English dominant and 31 percent is bilingual.
Further, according to a 2003 Celent Research Report on Ethnic Minorities, Financial Services and the Web, in-language online offerings should be a critical part of targeted ethnic marketing – yet they are currently purely informational rather than functional. This said, banking categories reported a 47 percent rise in page views by Hispanic visitors since the prior year, compared to 26 percent for the general Internet population.
Bank of America, the third largest bank in the country in term of assets and deposits had a 51 percent year-to-year jump in Hispanic Internet users, compared to a 19 percent jump among non-Hispanics. Citigroup’s Hispanic site visits rose 49 percent, compared to 22 percent for non-Hispanics. Capital One and WellsFargo.com both recorded Hispanic increases of 29 percent or more.
The top-ranked Spanish-language site among the U.S. Hispanic Internet audience of 12.556 million in September 2004 was Terra Networks, attracting 1.451 million unique visitors. Yahoo’s Spanish sites drew 1.446 million, ahead of YupiMSN at 1.274 million and Univision at 1.245 million.
The average time spent online by Hispanics in September of 2004 was 26.5 hours, up 24 percent over the 21.4-hour average in October 2003. Page views, too, are on the rise, jumping 30 percent over 2003 to 2,791 in September.
Moderator’s Comment: Why isn’t corporate America convinced that the Internet is a viable marketing channel when targeting Hispanics?
Are marketers aware of these facts? Is it a matter of budgets? Or do they simply choose not to respond to these online trends among Hispanics?
“It’s very shocking,” said Ron Rogowski, an analyst at Forrester Research. Even companies that have added Spanish to their Web sites may just do an overview
page in Spanish, with links that send readers right back to English. “That says, ‘We know Spanish-speakers are important, but we’re not going to do anything for them,'” Mr. Rogowki
George Anderson – Moderator