May 2007 - Channel Crossing: U.S. Hispanic

Tapping Into the U.S. Hispanic E-commerce Opportunity

By Lee Vann

The U.S. Hispanic online market continues to grow and in January 2007, 16.5 million Hispanics had access to the Internet. In the past 12 months, the U.S. Hispanic online market expanded 12 percent, adding approximately 1.8 million new users, while the aggregate U.S. online market grew only by 1 percent. Today, 55 percent of U.S. Hispanics are online, and this group can be characterized as an upscale mass market. When compared to the overall Hispanic market, online Hispanics are more affluent, more educated and more acculturated-and are buying online in record numbers.

In 2007, online Hispanics will spend approximately $10 billion online. Sixty-three percent of online Hispanics purchase via the Internet and this group spends an average of $100 per month online. It is interesting to point out that online Hispanics are as likely as their general market counterparts to purchase products over the Internet. Not only are Hispanics active online buyers, they are also very active online shoppers. In fact, 85 percent of online Hispanics research products online to then purchase offline. When looking closer at Hispanic online buyers and shoppers, it is critical to look deeper at their language preferences.

The majority of online Hispanics are shopping at leading English language e-commerce sites. Companies such as eBay, and Wal-Mart are the most popular e-commerce sites among U.S. Hispanics online. Most online Hispanics are proficient in English and as a result, are comfortable purchasing from English websites. This insight does not mean that e-commerce players cannot proactively target online Hispanics in English. Creating culturally relevant product offerings, promotions and online campaigns, similar to iTunes Latino, are techniques that can be used to specifically address the needs of Hispanic online shoppers in English.

That being said, approximately 25 percent of the Hispanic online market prefers Spanish and few retailers are addressing this segment online. In the past 12 months, the Spanish segment of the Hispanic online market grew faster than the bilingual and English segments. During that time, 440,000 Spanish-dominant Hispanics accessed the Internet for the first time. Today, approximately 4 million online Hispanics rely on the Spanish language and e-commerce companies that market to them will reap long-term revenue and market-share growth. The Spanish-dominant segment, in general, can be thought of as a group of novice Internet users who may not be comfortable buying online. As a result, messaging directed to this segment of the Hispanic online market should focus on trust and credibility, emphasizing flexible purchase and payment options.

As Hispanics continue to embrace the Internet and penetration levels increase, Hispanic e-commerce expenditures will follow. Companies looking to tap into this opportunity need to think strategically, understand the needs of these consumers and execute in both a culturally and linguistically appropriate way.

Lee Vann is co-founder of Captura Group (, a leading Hispanic interactive services firm. Recently, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) recognized Vann as one of the top 10 Hispanic online pioneers. He can be reached at (619) 681-1858, or via e-mail at [email protected].


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