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Hispanic Internet Users - An emerging market opportunity in the US
What's Behind the Curtain in Latin America and Spain
martinibuster




msg:628971
 4:30 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hispanic Internet Users - An emerging market opportunity in the US?
What about in Latin America and Spain?

I've been approached by a couple people interested in marketing to the hispanic community in the US, as well as in the world. I'm not so sure about that. According to a Forbes article [forbes.com]:
Though Spanish is the world's second-most commonly spoken language behind English, it is far from that position in the digital world... by some estimates, Internet content written in Spanish accounts for only 3% of what's available.

Some say it's an emerging market. Enough that Sears-Roebuck, JetBlue, and Office Depot have built entire spanish language web sites to reach out to Spanish speaking internet users.

What is your opinion or prediction of the Spanish speaking internet situation, both in the US and in the world?

 

takagi




msg:628972
 4:44 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

On AllTheWeb, the percentage of indexed pages in Spanish grew from 2.0% to 3.1% in the last 13 months; going up from the 8th position to the 5th position (see this thread [webmasterworld.com]).

jimbeetle




msg:628973
 6:27 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

Some say it's an emerging market.

Hey martinibuster,

My better half worked for a major US Spanish-language network for about 30 years. During the entire period much time was spent trying to convince advertisers that Spanish-language consumers were not an 'emerging' market but an existing, thriving demographic.

Most large packaged-goods companies finally climbed aboard and now target a piece of their television and print advertising to US Spanish speakers. This apparently has not yet been implemented on some of their websites -- a quick check of the two largest packaged-goods sites shows links to other countries but no US Spanish-language pages. Hmmm, seems to be a big failing on their parts.

I can't remember all of the statistics but in many of the presentations the 'at home' Spanish speakers represented a large chunk of the group. It would be logical to think that as the populations settle in and become 2nd and 3rd generations the at home use would decline. But overall the populations change, there's always somebody new coming along; the past few years in NYC we've seen a huge influx of folks from Mexico whereas before there were comparatively few -- and Spanish is their main language (and we now have some really good Mexican restaurants and taquerias).

And this is just observation but in East Harlem (heavily Puerto Rican and Mexican); Washington Heights (Little Dominica); Corona, Queens (people from every country in South America); and along Fordham Road in the Bronx (a little bit of everybody from everywhere) and other areas around town, most trade signs are in Spanish, including billboards and advertisements on subways serving those communities.

Advertisers cannot aford to ignore this demographic.

And -- total conjecture here -- but as hardware prices continue to fall this might be a demo where Internet penetration is higher over the next few years.

Some food for thought and just my 2 cents,

Jim

martinibuster




msg:628974
 10:01 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

Spanish-language consumers were not an 'emerging' market but an existing, thriving demographic.

You're right. I never looked at it that way.

However, a lot of Spanish speakers watch TV, but I think that the situation with the internet for those same households isn't as large.

For instance, in this article [biz.yahoo.com] they say that Hispanics are "the fastest-growing minority group the United States today comprising 12.5 percent of the population with the lowest Internet penetration of any major ethnic group."

So, on the one hand we have people saying the market is poised for exponential growth and are getting in now. While on the other there are those who would stay on the sidelines and wait for the market to develop.

jimbeetle




msg:628975
 10:35 pm on Aug 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think that the situation with the internet for those same households isn't as large

So, on the one hand we have people saying the market is poised for exponential growth and are getting in now.

These were the same types of things said about Spanish-language television 10, 20 and 30 years ago -- and are still being said about it today: "Hispanic television market heats up"; "Poised for growth"; etc. It's never really stopped growing and it still is. The folks who got in then, well, they did very well.

A look around a couple of the Spanish-language sites shows both Optimum Online and AOL making bets on this market, as well as MSN with Yupi. So some of the big boys are already in it.

I think Internet penetration will come along. The neighborhoods I mentioned in the post above are all solidly middle class where the folks might not have a lot of money to spend but either have to spend it (parents) or like to spend it (the kids).

All that said, maybe there is a difference between being more comfortable listening to a television show in your native tongue and reading a page on the web.

PatrickDeese




msg:628976
 11:33 pm on Aug 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

The problem with a lot of the Latin American market, IMHO is that electronic credit (or even debit) is very difficult to obtain.

I live in Mexico and interest rates for things like auto and home loans (if you can even get one) are so outrageous that you wouldn't believe it. But in a country like this, most people pay in cash for everything, or do without.

So having an ecommerce site targeted to Lat Am is probably not going to succeed for the most part in the long run, because the "Average José" doesn't have a means of paying electronically.

Almost everything is paid for via bank deposit. I have a wholesale account with Ingram Micro de Mexico (computer equip distro) and if I place an order, I have to go to the local branch of their bank and deposit the funds with a special transaction number into their account. There is no net 10 or net 30 - not for small business owners, at least.

The e-barrier for Lat Am is that the currency fluctuates in value too much to make lending practical for either the bank or the recipient. Imagine lending 100,000 dollars worth of $LatAmCurrency only to have it devalue by a pair of against the US $.

Suddenly the $100,000 dollars is worth $10,000 in local $$. Oops. That is exactly what happened in Mexico in 1994-1995.

martinibuster




msg:628977
 2:14 am on Aug 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Patrick,
You make some very good points.

Yet, surely there's an upper middle class that does have credit cards and shops online?

I'm very interested to know what your opinion is on that, particularly since you have the on-the-ground view of it.

Thanks.

TallTroll




msg:628978
 9:31 am on Aug 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yikes, I remember this conversation from 18 months ago! Heres the thread [webmasterworld.com]
The condensed version is this :

Lots of Hispanics ARE online, but the "target" Hispanics (relatively high time online, and the ability / willingness to purchase online, implying an above average socio-economic group) also tends to imply good English skills, so they will use English language sites where no Spanish alternative exists.... the "masses" still suffer from lack of access (both hardware and connectivity), and a lack of quality Spanish-only destination sites. This distorts the apparent size of the Spanish language market

Hispanics are the fastest growing group in the US (I think in some states, Spanish is actually the most common first language now - you US types correct me if I'm mistaken), so the market grows apace, but its exploitation remains more or less flat..... that's going to change one day

Check out Google Zeitgeist figures, that neat little "Languages Used to Access Google" chart... Spanish shows significant growth over the last 2 years (Chinese shows the highest %age growth). Eventually, the critical mass will be reached, in terms of users and destination sites, and the "Spanish Internet" will be GO.... be there

hannamyluv




msg:628979
 7:30 pm on Aug 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

We've been looking into the hispanic market for a few months now and frankly the prospect is dismal. It isn't so much that the market isn't there, because it is. The problem is that there is no effective way to reach that market. This fact compounded with the fact that the "hispanic" market isn't really one solid peice but rather several sub-groups (Mexican, Puerto Rican, South American, etc) makes marketing to this group a potential nightmare.

There isn't much in the way of Spanish search options. Advertising in Spanish print is twice as expensive as English print, as is apparently television, though we havn't looked far into that media. You can't rent very good lists due to the fact that you don't know if they are a Spanish speaking household and even if they are, which Spanish are they speaking. These and about a dozen other obstacles stand in the way.

We would love to market to them. We are pretty sure they would love us and would be a profitable section but right now we don't know how to get our name out to them.

PatrickDeese




msg:628980
 8:29 pm on Aug 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

martinibuster: Yet, surely there's an upper middle class that does have credit cards and shops online?

Yes. Mexico is alleged to have more millionaires per capita than the US.

However - at least in Mexico, import taxes are fairly exhorbitant (at least 15% duty on the *assessed* value), and with the shipping times and the "instant gratification" factor - it's a tough market IMHO.

I have about 10 Mexican clients that I would consider very wealthy (US $ millionaire +). They have all expressed to me anxiety about using their credit cards online even for stuff like domain name registration. So I would create a *huge* section about transaction security etc.

hannamyluv: We would love to market to them. We are pretty sure they would love us and would be a profitable section but right now we don't know how to get our name out to them.

I have owned a cyber café for 4 years in Mexico. I have observed that Mexicans will in general, click on the #1 SERP no matter what the snippet tells them.

So, in other words, positioning is important. On the bright side, as far as I can tell the Spanish language SERPs are *wide open*.

You should see some of the results I am accidentally top 5 in. Let's put it this way - if I could figure out a way to make money off of "electronic postcards" in Spanish, I'd be rich. Unfortunately no adwords for those type of terms.

Frankly I would be really frugal with an OVT or AdWords campaign for this market. Lots of clicks, but not much ROI, for the reasons cited above. I must stress that this is all IMHO, so I hope no one is offended by these generalizations.

I personally have gotten great ROI from my Spanish content - but none of that experience is in Ecommerce (travel destination info).

I would suggest (depending on the size of your site) starting with a smaller section in Spanish - if you sell 1000 products - make a mini catalog with your top 50 best sellers - with links to the entire product line in English.

But simply putting stuff like you order form and international shipping info in Spanish might make all the difference in the world.

OTOH - translating, even a large site, isn't that expensive, especially when outsourcing *cough* </plug>.

With the way Google is updating now, you can pretty much count on seeing a deep crawl of new content on an established within a couple of weeks at most, and relatively instanteous SERPs.

edit: used some HTML instead of style codes.

robertito62




msg:628981
 9:06 pm on Aug 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Being in Miami and being latinoamerican I have a view of both hispanics in the US and abroad.

As we discussed with a moderator a while back, the US hispanic market might be a go. As for Latam, there are so many reasons to avoid it that the list will be just too long.

Bear in mind the new governments of Lula in Brazil, Kirchner in Argentina and the old Chavez in Venezuela are leftish for the most part. In the last 3/4 years most countries south of the US border suffered devastation (I know this personally). And I include Mexico which suffers the China-maquilladoras syndrome.

In the future, should commodities recover, their economies may hit the growth path again, but that might be years away.

Whatever gains capitalism managed to accomplish have either stalled or in some cases are reversing (notoriously).

This does not bode well when trying to combine latins and plastic. Flow of capital must remain free from barriers, something that is now in question.

As mentioned above, there are other obstacles as well. I might be wrong, but being in the adult industry I haven't translated one single page into Spanish, something that I could easily do while I watch TV. I'd rather pay for a translation into Korean and German.

> On AllTheWeb, the percentage of indexed pages in Spanish grew from 2.0% to 3.1% in the last 13 months.

This is only an indication that webmasters have been busy building pages, not necessarily that there's a market. Suggesting that growth in pages offered is accompanying similar growth in pages demanded by users is a risky proposition.

Similar thoughts were given to the belief that most Latam economies would explode when they opened their markets during the 90's and there was a rush of American/ European Corps to set foot there, only to run away a few years later. Yes, they did explode... but not as expected :(

takagi




msg:628982
 3:31 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

> On AllTheWeb, the percentage of indexed pages in Spanish grew from 2.0% to 3.1% in the last 13 months.

This is only an indication that webmasters have been busy building pages, not necessarily that there's a market. Suggesting that growth in pages offered is accompanying similar growth in pages demanded by users is a risky proposition.

You are right, so let's look at the users of another search engine (Google)


. . . . . .Feb. 2001 . . Jan. 2002 . .June 2003

English. . . . .70% . . . . . .57% . . . . .49%
German . . . . . 9% . . . . . .12% . . . . .10%
Japanese . . . . 7% . . . . . . 7% . . . . . 7%
Spanish. . . . . 2% . . . . . . 6% . . . . . 8%
French . . . . . 5% . . . . . . 5% . . . . . 5%
Chinese. . . . . 1% . . . . . . 3% . . . . . 5%
Italian. . . . . 2% . . . . . . 2% . . . . . 3%
Other. . . . . . 4% . . . . . . 8% . . . . .12%

source: Feb. 2001 [google.com], Jan. 2002 [google.com], June 2003 [webmasterworld.com]

robertito62




msg:628983
 4:39 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

takagi,
with all due respect, those stats still mean nothing in terms of $$. Take a look at the Chinese traffic growth.

No offense intended, but that is a traffic I would avoid like the plague. The fact that Chinese participation over the Net has grown 500% means little when it comes to *plastic* facts.

I believe that the central idea of this thread is:
is there an opportunity in regards to the Spanish-speaking markets? In other words, is there money to be made?

Except for Spain -which I know little about- I'd say no. Show me stats that prove me wrong and I am in business.

martinibuster




msg:628984
 5:07 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

I like takagi's stats. But as robertito62 mentioned, there's a cash flow issue going on in Latin America. There just isn't enough cash to float industries, no matter how productive, educated, cheap the labor pool is in Latin America.

Think of a boat in a harbor-now think of that boat when the tides gone out and it's sitting on mud. No amount of industriousness and good business ideas will save you if you don't have the capital to float it.

China, however is way different story. They have huge amounts of capital flowing into the country from just about every industry you can think of: computers, garlic, toys, power juicers- you name it and it probably was made in China. What this means is that the capital is there to lend, to grow, to build. The China stats can only grow larger- and that means $.

Not so in Latin America.

On the other hand, it does show an 8 percent use of Google by Spanish speakers, and someone who is saavy enough to attract a critical mass of them can probably make a decent percentage. But it may not be a sure thing.

vitaplease




msg:628985
 5:33 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have translated my site in five languages (approx. 600 pages each language), with B2B content in a technical niche sector.

For what its worth from my very limited exposure, relatively speaking the Spanish surf a lot through my site but buy very little.
Of all my languages (English, German, French, Spanish, Dutch), the Spanish copy the most content (I have a right mouse copy content detector).
In fact, most of the little I've sold to Spanish speaking public actually came through English pages.
Having said that, maybe local presence, or a different market sector/audience, is more important in Spain and the Southern American countries. I'm hoping my Spanish efforts will pay in the future.

jimbeetle




msg:628986
 10:19 pm on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Suddenly the $100,000 dollars is worth $10,000 in local $$. Oops.

Yeah, I've seen that first hand where the rent has to be paid in US dollars, then the peso takes a header and all the upper middle class folks are in deep doo doo. A few friends who were able to market their skills in the States found Miami and New York much more stable.

imply good English skills, so they will use English language sites where no Spanish alternative exists

Another me-too. In Mexico the well- (many U.S.-) educated middle class slips very effortlessly between languages. I'd assume the same for Latin and South American countries.

Patrick, another possible hurdle for Mexico -- are access charges still comparatively more expensive than in the States? They were outrageous a few years ago.

Hispanic Internet Users - An emerging market opportunity in the US?
What about in Latin America and Spain?

Martinibuster, looks like this might be where you have to segment your interest -- Spanish-speaking U.S. market versus markets in specific Spanish-speaking countries. With all the political and economic differences it appears it would be hard to make good generalizations for the Spanish-speaking market as a whole.

<aside>After you started this thread I really did start to notice the abundance of Spanish-language advertising here in NYC, both print and television, by the large consumer goods companies. Still very, very suprised that two of the largest packaged-goods companies in the world, with all the advertising money they spend targeting the market, don't have Spanish sites directed at the Spanish-speaking U.S. market.</aside>

PatrickDeese




msg:628987
 11:38 pm on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

>> are access charges still comparatively more expensive than in the States? They were outrageous a few years ago. <<

I have cable internet (256 Kbps) and it costs US ~$100 per month.

The natl phone co., Telmex offers dogslow dialup for about US $10 per month in many metro areas, and now have ADSL in some markets but I hate the Telco and try to give them as little as possible. Their 512 Kbps is US $200 per month, I believe, but reputed to be very unreliable.

JustTrying




msg:628988
 11:55 pm on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Interesting discussion. Does anybody have any stats or experience with the US-ONLY Spanish speaking online population?

After living in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona it is very clear that there is a ever-growing "USA" contingent of Spanish speakers out there. Of course, the "digital divide" issue is question within this population, but certainly there is already a fairly decent size group of online buyers within the USA...I just don't know what the real numbers are.

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