U.S. Hispanic E-Shoppers Indifferent To Language

Spanish-language online retailer Espanol.com has found that few Hispanic Internet shoppers in the United States care whether their shopping destinations are in English or Spanish.

The study of 2,000 Internet-ready U.S. Hispanics, commissioned by Espanol.com and conducted by Research & Research, Inc., found that 51 percent of respondents are either indifferent to language issues on the Web or are at least comfortable in a bilingual environment. More than 40 percent of survey respondents said that they prefer English sites, as compared to the eight percent who want Spanish sites.

Founded in December 1998, Espanol.com offers music, books, videos, spiritual items, and hard-to-find Latin merchandise “in an environment that understands their cultural needs and interests,” the company says. Espanol.com plans to expand its inventory to include jewelry, electronics, sporting goods, fragrances and cosmetics.

The Espanol.com Spin

Espanol.com believes that these results stem from the Internet’s English-language history, and insist that the survey clearly indicates that Hispanic shoppers want uniquely Spanish sites to patronize.

The company argues that Hispanic shoppers have accepted English-language shopping sites because they have been online the longest, and have been able to establish brand recognition and reputations before Spanish-language sites began to catch on. The company added that, despite the survey’s findings of language indifference, there is still a place for a well-run Spanish-language sites that target the unique needs and shopping preferences of Spanish speakers.

“The results of this survey are a strong endorsement of our culturally-specific business model,” Espanol.com CEO Kyle McNamara said. “Fifty-one percent of our survey group are self-described bilinguals who would patronize a Spanish Internet alternative the same way they choose to buy both Latin and Anglo music.”

Latin music tapes, records and CDs are some of the most popular items that U.S. Hispanic shoppers are buying online, with 49 percent saying they buy Salsa, Spanish ballads, Merengue or Spanish rock online. English-language rock and pop music are equally popular among these shoppers, the survey said.

“The survey finds strongly defined markets for Spanish language products in more established media like music and television,” Espanol.com says. In those areas, McNamara argues, “quality Spanish-language alternatives have existed long enough for people to develop their own personal experience and make a choice.”

A Closer Look

As a demographic group, U.S. Hispanics are highly active on the Internet, according to the survey. Sixty-one percent of U.S. Hispanics online made a purchase in the last year, and 74 percent of those purchasers connect to the Internet daily.

U.S. Hispanic online shoppers are predominantly male, the average age is 32, and the average annual income is $51,600 (US$). These shoppers spend an average of $547 online, and the average shopper bought six items last year. Music was the dominant purchase, with 86 percent buying music online and 45 percent buying books.

Thirty-seven percent of the U.S. Hispanics surveyed were born in the United States, while 63 percent are foreign-born. Of those, 36 percent are from Mexico, 33 percent are from Central and South America, and 28 percent are from the Caribbean. More than half of the participants surveyed have lived in the United States for 15 years or more, while 31 percent have lived in United States 10 years or less.

Reasons for shopping online mirrored results of non-ethnic surveys of online shoppers. Seventy percent of Hispanics surveyed said that they shop online to save time, 57 percent claim that shopping online is easier, 56 percent shop online because of low prices and appreciate the absence of a salesperson, and 42 percent look online for products they cannot find in stores.

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