In 2014, Will Spanish Still Matter To Online Hispanics?

I started at Forrester almost four years ago to launch our Hispanic Technograpics research. What I learned very quickly from our clients is that they had very limited insight into online Hispanic’s attitudes, behaviors, and language preference when online. Since then, I’ve published several reports that define Spanish-preferring Hispanics and explore topics such as the content they read online and how to measure the ROI of Spanish-language sites. We have three years of historical data showing that the Hispanic Spanish-preferring market is about half of online Hispanics and that these consumers are very active online. What we haven’t had, until now, is a forecast of the size of Hispanic online market moving forward. Earlier this year, we launched ForecastView, a syndicated product that will include 40 forecasts across different industries. I had the pleasure of working with our ForecastView team to put together the Hispanic portion of Forrester’s Online Population Access and Demographic Forecast, which goes up to 2014.The results show that in the next five years Hispanics will:

  • Come online faster than any other group. With an expected growth rate of 5.4%, the Hispanic online market will grow twice as fast as the overall US online population In raw numbers, this means 37.4 million Hispanics over the age of two will be connected, making up 14.4% of online consumers.
  • Bump up online penetration. Sixty-nine percent of Hispanics will go online at least monthly in 2014, gaining eight percentage points from 2009 levels. This is still below forecasted overall US adoption at 82%.
  • Still prefer Spanish online. Our model estimates that 49% of online Hispanics  in 2014 will be Spanish-preferring. This translates into 18.2 million consumers who will find some connection to Spanish-language advertising and content if it’s in context and relevant to them.

What does this mean?  

For marketers this means that the Hispanic online population will continue to be important, as will the imperative to think cross-culturally and even in both languages when reaching this group. And for market researchers, this means understanding how to tease apart Hispanics’ degrees of Spanish preference and apply these learnings to a strategy or tactic. The fact of the matter is that Hispanic online consumers are used to switching between languages where it’s relevant and where the best content is available. Our forecast shows language should still be a consideration when determine any plan to reach Hispanic consumers online, but this should be married with efforts to understand behaviors, attitudes, and cultural experiences that give color to when and why Hispanics make language choices online.

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