Among the most iconic scenes in American film history is the image of Roy Scheider’s face as he backpedals from the edge of the boat after seeing the shark for the first time, and with complete conviction, he offers to Robert Shaw the quintessential statement of miscalculation, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” But what I didn’t notice about this scene from "Jaws" until recently is what Scheider was doing just before he saw the shark -- looking in the other direction.
I can’t think of a better metaphor for the state of digital marketing to the U.S. Hispanic audience online. While online marketers continue to look in the other direction, the fast-growing and highly engaged Hispanic online market is quietly, if not slowly, becoming a great catch for businesses. Marketers would be wise to not get caught looking in the other direction here. Let’s look at some of the numbers.
• 15 - Percentage of the U.S. online population that is Hispanic
• 16 - Percentage of the U.S. total population that is Hispanic
• 3 - The number of times faster the Hispanic online audience is growing than the general online audience
• 59 - Percentage of online Hispanics who are under 35 years old
• 65 - Percentage of online Hispanics who have children
• 28 - Percentage of online Hispanics who have five or more people in the household
• 19 - Percentage of online Hispanics who use the Internet in Spanish only
These numbers are interesting and in some cases surprising, but what do they mean in terms of understanding the online Hispanic audience? There are two key statements being made in the numbers, and both are good news for businesses that make a concerted effort to reach Hispanics online.
The Digital Divide is Going Away
With Hispanics making up 15 percent of the online U.S. population and 16 percent of the total U.S. population, show me where the Internet-usage divide between Hispanics and other demographics. And with the Hispanic online audience growing at three times the rate of the general online audience, whatever divide still exists is being closed quickly. If this trend continues, we will see the Hispanic market overrepresented online and driving more and more of the information, products and services available to digital consumers. The end shot of this trend is that Hispanics will be progressively easier to reach online, but whether businesses can connect with them is another matter.
Hispanics Online are an Attractive Demographic Market
In short, Hispanics online are young and making family purchase decisions. This means that reaching them online has a multiplying effect when it comes to consumer purchases. It is not one buying, it’s one buying for many. This demographic characteristic raises the stakes for businesses competing for Hispanic customers. Winning doesn’t mean winning a customer, it means winning a household, in many cases.
While many have deemed targeting the Hispanic market as somewhat of an anachronism, what is absolutely of this time is the need to connect with the characteristics, preferences and values of your target consumers. Now, many more of them just happen to be Hispanic.
So how do you keep from being caught looking in the wrong direction when the Hispanic online audience finally emerges into the forefront? Below are three tactics for connecting to this growing and highly digital audience.
1. Move Beyond Language
Targeting Hispanics online is not an exercise in translating your ad copy into Spanish. While the number of Spanish-only digital consumers is growing, you still need to connect with them beyond the language. Connecting is about making sure your message expresses shared interests and values. Being culturally relevant is as important as being culturally legible.
2. Get a Bigger Budget
Or at least dedicate more of your budget to making those connections. Reaching your target audience takes work, and in the world of online marketing, work equals money. Currently, less than 1 percent of digital marketing dollars are targeting Hispanics. Using 1 percent of your budget to reach 15 percent of the audience is bad math. Some are saying that mid-single digits, around 5-7 percent, is more appropriate for a percentage dedicated to Hispanic audiences.
3. Be Mobile
The Hispanic audience is inordinately mobile. According to ZPryme’s 2012 Hispanic Mobile Consumer Trends Study, 60 percent of online Hispanics use tablets or smartphones to access the Internet. More than 60 percent use the Internet three or more hours per day. And, maybe most startling is that 45 percent use their smartphone as their Internet connection most or all of the time.
If you are one of those marketers looking the other way when it comes to the growing Hispanic online market, you needn’t be afraid. It is still early, and the plot is still thickening. Putting these three tactics into play for your business can get you started in your quest to catch up to Hispanic audiences online. With $1.3 trillion in buying power by 2015, that’s a big fish.
Jaws (YouTube) - “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Principal Analyst, The IB Digital Agency