New study details the online interdependence among Hispanic families that requires marketers to adopt a bilingual, bicultural approach.
LOS ANGELES (June 2020) – The propensity of Hispanic families to operate as interdependent, multigenerational units – whether they live together or not – changes the game for marketers in ways that many aren’t prepared for, according to a new report from Gravity’s Latin X and ThinkNow.
The 2020 Guide to Hispanic Digital Purchasing Behavior reveals a blindside that thwarts marketers’ efforts to grow business with the increasingly important Hispanic populace. Everyday Hispanics toggle continuously between language and culture. Online, they move between English and Spanish while they search for themselves and for family members. In effect, they become collective consumers online. English- and Spanish-dominant consumers are either helping or seeking support from each other.
Fully 81% of Hispanics are asked to search the Internet for information on an item a Spanish-speaking relative wants to purchase. Importantly, those requests come from within and outside the family – 57% of Hispanics field requests from within the home, while 51% help relatives who are not in their households, and 24% play Sherpa for family members overseas.
Interestingly, Spanish-dominant (Span Dom) Hispanics regularly search the Internet for family members within the household (62%) and/or in another country (28%), because they are a little more fluent in English and much more Internet-capable. That said, the Bilingual/English Dominant (English DOM) tends to field requests equally from both U.S. relatives in their household (54%) and those not in their households, but in the U.S (54%).
“Most often brands are built on the premise that all digital marketing is one to one, but when it comes to Hispanic consumers, they’re really engaging one to many, or 1:X,” said Maria Twena, Global Head of the Latin X practice at Gravity. “Online Hispanic marketing is more collective and global than most marketers realize. Brands can engage a Hispanic online, without knowing that he/she is serving as a proxy for multiple family members across the U.S., Latin America or Spain. And that the collective informs every key touchpoint of the online path to purchase.”
As a result, brands need bilingual, bicultural strategies, especially online. Twena cited three specific actions:
- Load up on bilingual keywords and use both English and Spanish terms on English and Spanish browsers. While 52% of Digital Sherpas mostly research in English or on English-language websites, 25% search in both languages and 23% do so in Spanish.
- Put a translation tool on every website page (in the absence of a Spanish language site) and make the Spanish-language button prominent at the top of the page on an English site to facilitate toggling.
- Support e-commerce in Spanish and have a toll-free Spanish number and Spanish Live Chat.
In addition, Twena said, marketers need to account for the different ways that the bilingual/Eng Dom and Span Doms help family members. Span Doms are more likely to buy the item for a family member, while ELFs will use translation apps and coach relatives on how to process a transaction themselves. The latter is an example of biculturalism at play.
Gravity and ThinkNow came together to create the fact base marketers need to support a significant shift in Hispanic online strategy.
“Marketers know they need to build business with the Hispanic consumer cohort because they comprise 20% of the U.S. population, and are a valuable consumer group. Household composition is informed by larger families that buy more goods over time,” said Mario Carrasco, co-founder and principal at ThinkNow. “But they need to approach the online Hispanic community with the same attention to language and cultural nuance they apply offline.”
ThinkNow surveyed 500 consumers, ages 18-64, who self-identified as Hispanic, in March 2020. Respondents represented today’s Hispanic market in terms of region, language proficiency, acculturation and country of origin.
About Latin X
Latin X is a discipline within the Consumer X practice at Gravity, an independent marketing agency built for business impact. Latin X helps marketers target the Hispanic market across acculturation levels, with an emphasis on the bilingual, bicultural consumers who wield the greatest influence within the Hispanic sector. Gravity brings together diverse thinkers and specialties from across six offices (Houston, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Argentina and Nha Trang, Vietnam) to identify hidden opportunities, generate marketplace results and develop lasting advantages for clients such as Public Storage, Cox Enterprises, Natrol, Phillips 66 and Stage Stores. Gravity, a minority-owned agency, was founded in 2018 when agency entrepreneur Jose Lozano formalized a collective of successful independent agencies as one integrated enterprise.
ThinkNow is a technology-driven cultural insights agency. ThinkNow enables companies and government agencies to discover the cultural drivers that influence consumer decisions. We provide insight solutions to help organizations thrive in a changing demographic environment. ThinkNow also owns and operates one of the largest and most representative Hispanic online panels in the industry, DigaYGane.com, used to service our research as well as provide samples to the leading market research companies in the world. Learn more at www.thinknow.com.