Are Stereotypes About Minorities and the Internet Still Alive and Well?

Discussion
Mar 02, 2005
George Anderson

By Terry Soto, About Marketing Solutions, Inc.

(www.aboutmarketingsolutions.com)


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
said.

George Anderson – Moderator

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8 Comments on "Are Stereotypes About Minorities and the Internet Still Alive and Well?"


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Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
15 years 8 months ago

So many companies are involved with looking for ways to cut costs that this is probably just flying under the radar screen at many companies. I seem to remember that there were a lot of companies that dragged their feet about having an online presence until it got to the point that it was considered mandatory. These same companies will delay adding multi-language versions of their websites as long as they feel they can afford to. I agree that this is very shortsighted of them, but this just gives an advantage to their competitors.

Karen Kingsley
Guest
Karen Kingsley
15 years 8 months ago

Some perspective here: One reason the growth rates are so high for Hispanics and internet usage is that they have been slower to adopt this technology than other ethnicities. There is simply more room for dramatic growth. Now, it is a fair question to ask: which came first, the chicken or the egg – have they not used the internet extensively because it wasn’t Hispanic-friendly or is it not Hispanic-friendly because they haven’t been there?

Looking forward, with these numbers, the message is clear for marketers to get on board, and those who already have are far ahead of the game because changing internet behavior is much harder than creating it.

Some more facts about Hispanics and why marketers better pay attention:

– Hispanics are more likely to be employed than the average American
– More than one-third have been to college
– Hispanic spending power is growing at twice the annual rate of non-Hispanics.
– 55% of Hispanic households have four or more members.

Len Lewis
Guest
Len Lewis
15 years 8 months ago

There’s no question that PC penetration and Internet usage among Hispanics is growing. And there are numerous marketers who have taken advantage of that opportunity. The fact that others have not, or have not done a good job, should not be construed as simply not caring.

It may be a matter that more acculturated Hispanic consumers that some marketers cater to are perfectly fine with having English Web pages. It’s strictly a business decision. For them, Internet usage among unacculturated Hispanics may not be worth the effort at this point. I’m not saying it’s right. In fact, it’s very short sighted. But, as I said, it may simply be a short term business decision.

Michael L. Howatt
Guest
Michael L. Howatt
15 years 8 months ago

It may be true that the Hispanic online population is growing at a rapid pace, but how is that related to their spending power? It could be that companies don’t yet have enough information that shows what the correlation is between online usage and its effect on purchase behavior.

The other factor would be apathy. If 52% of Hispanics online are English dominant or bilingual, why spend the money on the other 42%? I’m sure many companies assume that the majority of the buying power comes from the English speaking Hispanics, so the expenditure of a Spanish only Web site isn’t a big priority.

Mahala Renkey
Guest
Mahala Renkey
15 years 8 months ago

Companies are stretched thin and just don’t have the resources to ensure their sites are bi-lingual and up-to-date. There is still so much NDI – No Decision Inc. – going on that the data is not readily available by marketing staff to “prove” they have Spanish speaking customers who would prefer a Web site in Spanish.

Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
Guest
Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
15 years 8 months ago

Clients are so bombarded with statistics, that I think they lose their impact. The general feeling is that statistics are set up to reflect someone’s agenda. Having worked with clients in this very area, it isn’t so much a matter of not believing that Latinos are online users, but it’s a belief that the bilingual, more acculturated consumer is being reached via existing online efforts. The other layer, putting things in Spanish (either as translation or as original content) is a matter of prioritization, budgeting, resources, etc. etc. etc. Those clients that can commit to the opportunity of targeted, online Hispanic focused efforts are gaining learnings and results. Those that aren’t, aren’t.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

Many sites that target Europeans, even very small independent hotels, have multilingual alternatives. On the surface, it seems naive of American companies not to offer Spanish translations but I suppose if they do that, they need to provide Japanese, Korean etc. as well. And on still another hand, what would really be wrong with that?

Franklin Benson
Guest
Franklin Benson
15 years 8 months ago

It seems to me that in the presence of some good, hard data this problem would fix itself. If Spanish-language web sites were getting the hits, and generating the sales that English-web sites are, they would proliferate.

The fact that some enterprising, Spanish-fluent, Hispanics have not already had a “breakout” in market share with their own Spanish-language Website says to me that the market might not be quite as eager as the article is indicating.

That’s not to say that the future trend doesn’t lie down that path, of course. Just that we’re not quite there yet.

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