Despite the efforts of some major American big-box chains, most retailers continually overlook the opportunity to serve U.S. Hispanic consumers in authentic and resonant ways — especially during the holiday season.
Hispanics represent a fast-growing, influential and increasingly affluent demographic. They currently comprise about 18 percent of the U.S. population, with a combined purchasing power of $1.7 trillion. With both numbers projected to continually grow, businesses should act now to attract this powerful, relatively untapped market — especially online.
A Tech-Savvy Market
According to eMarketer, about eight in 10 U.S. Hispanics are Internet users, and seven in 10 are smartphone users. While their rate of smartphone ownership is comparable to the U.S. average, Hispanics spend nearly two extra hours per week on their phones compared to the general population.
Most important to retailers, smartphone use also plays an increasingly large role in the way Hispanic consumers shop. Many Hispanics use their smartphones to research products, and during the holidays, make more purchases on mobile devices than the U.S. average. Even when purchasing in-store, more than 80 percent of Hispanics report using a mobile device to conduct product research.
These mobile and e-commerce trends suggest that retailers should seize the opportunity to serve Hispanic customers online. Here are insights and best practices that brands can use to attract Hispanic consumers during the holiday shopping season and year-round.
Best Practice #1: Speak the Language
While Hispanics are increasingly becoming bilingual, nearly 75 percent speak Spanish at home, and 38 percent speak primarily Spanish. Over 35 percent of Hispanics prefer to read most or all content in Spanish. Many prefer to transact online in Spanish, too.
This indicates that retailers should offer online experiences in both English and Spanish to effectively communicate with their Hispanic audience. Best practices for multilingual websites include:
· Translating all website content, including text, images, multimedia, dynamic content, website applications, etc.
· Localizing all steps of the shopping cart experience, including shipping and payment forms, and confirmation pages
· Localizing other conversion funnels, such as signups for newsletters or coupons
Best Practice #2: Communication Includes Culture
Hispanics appreciate when retailers not only speak their preferred language, but also address their cultural sensibilities. In fact, for younger Hispanics, language is less crucial than messaging that respects their unique identity and culture.
Brands marketing to Hispanic consumers should keep these insights in mind:
· Appeal to this market with authentic references to elements such as food, family and celebrations
· Remember that these consumers also embrace traditional American celebrations and customs
· Be mindful of the diversity of countries of origin within the U.S. Hispanic demographic
It’s critical to note that a “one size fits all” Hispanic marketing initiative may not resonate with all Hispanic consumers. Leaning on stereotypes or trying too hard to appeal to this market may come off as inauthentic or insensitive and alienate potential customers.
Best Practice #3: Don’t Forget Your In-Store Experience
Retailers with brick-and-mortar stores should appeal to Hispanic shoppers in-store, too. While Hispanic consumers do tend to research and buy items online, they also prefer to see, touch and try out products before making a purchase.
Holiday shopping is also often a family event for Hispanic consumers, and it’s common for this group to shop in-store with their families in tow. Stores that make it convenient for families to browse and shop together, in their preferred languages, create satisfying shopping experiences and may see higher conversions. Retailers can be more welcoming to Spanish-speaking shoppers by:
· Ensuring Spanish-language websites have an easy-to-find “Find a Store” call to action
· Providing in-store signage in Spanish
· Localizing mobile apps for the 83 percent of Hispanic shoppers who do product research while in a store
U.S. Hispanic Winter Holidays
Retailers who want to attract Hispanic consumers this year (and in holiday shopping seasons to come) should consider these traditions and trends in their marketing plans:
Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Week: While this shopping period has already passed, it’s important to note that Hispanic consumers are well-prepared for holiday shopping even before Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Week kick off the season. According to the National Retail Federation, 58 percent of Hispanic shoppers start researching gifts in October or earlier.
Retailers can help Hispanic customers plan their shopping lists ahead of time by offering early previews of Black Friday sales or providing informative holiday-related content in Spanish.
Posadas and Nochebuena: Las Posadas is a nine-day celebration that leads up to Christmas Eve, or Nochebuena, celebrated widely by Hispanics of Mexican and Guatemalan heritage. On Christmas Eve, many Hispanics celebrate with feasting and family parties.
Gifts are exchanged during these celebrations, but they aren’t known for consumerism. Instead of running sales or promotions for these holidays, craft messaging that focuses on tradition and family.
Three King’s Day: For most American consumers, the holiday shopping season stops at Christmas. But for many Hispanics, holiday-related purchases continue even after New Year’s.
That’s because of Three Kings’ Day, also known as Epiphany, which occurs Sunday, January 6. It is essentially a “second Christmas” in many Spanish-speaking countries. Though not a widely-known holiday in the U.S., more than half of Hispanics celebrate it, and about 40 percent buy gifts for the occasion.
Retailers should consider extending sales and offer free shipping to help Hispanic shoppers get their Three King’s Day gifts in time.
Wrapping up the Holiday Marketing Strategies
The U.S. Hispanic market is still underserved, despite its tremendous buying power, greater-than-average mobile use and embrace of American holiday shopping culture.
Retailers that provide Hispanic customers with culturally relevant Spanish-language online experiences position themselves to gain loyal customers, expand their market share and grow their potential revenue during the holiday season — and the rest of the year.
How Retailers Can Reach Hispanic Holiday Shoppers Online
Craig Witt is executive vice president at MotionPoint.