Online Hispanics Adopt, Adapt

The largest U.S. minority is increasing its online presence, creating huge opportunities for marketers, a recent study finds. Hispanics, relative latecomers to the Internet, have quickly integrated the medium into their lives by shopping, communicating, and performing advanced Web activities.

The second annual America Online/RoperASW U.S. Hispanic Cyberstudy identifies the Hispanic market as one that is significantly influenced by the Internet, and found they are eagerly outpacing the general online population in the adoption of certain activities.

Online Hispanics use the Internet more frequently to listen to music than the general population (54 percent compared to 30 percent); and 6 percent of online Hispanics have bought a car online in the last three years, compared to 2 percent of the general population. The Cyberstudy echoed the findings from a Pew Internet and American Life Project report that more Hispanics communicate via instant messaging (IM) than the general online population (64 percent vs. 48 percent). IM adoption spills over to wireless phones for Hispanic cell phone users, with 34 percent reportedly using the device for IM, compared to just 9 percent of the general population.

America Online/RoperASW conducted telephone interviews with three separate samples during Dec. 2003 and Jan. 2004 to glean the results of the study. More than 600 Hispanic online consumers with online access at home were surveyed by bilingual interviewers, along with 300 online consumers from the general population with online access at home. Bilingual interviewers also conducted an additional 308 surveys from the total U.S. Hispanic population, with 180 of these respondents reporting that they did not have online access at home.

The online Hispanic population has demonstrated an increasing reliance on the Web for brand information since the 2002 Cyberstudy, which often affects purchase decisions. In comparison, the Internet as a source of information for making final brand decisions dropped for the general population — 50 percent in 2002 to 47 percent in 2004.

Online Brand Information
Activity 2004 2002
Learning about the available brands 59% 50%
Learning about features/benefits of
available brands
61% 52%
Getting advice on brands to buy 56% 49%
Comparing prices 59% 50%
Making the final brand decision 51% 40%
Source: America Online/RoperASW

Despite growing adoption of Internet resources, the Hispanic community finds language continues to be a barrier to home usage. Fifty-one percent of Hispanics who speak at least some Spanish say the lack of Spanish Web content is the reason for not going online at home. Two-thirds of online Hispanics say that they wish there were more sites with interesting information for Hispanic Americans, and 45 percent express a desire for more Web ads in Spanish.

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