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Why You Need a Localized Website for the U.S. Hispanic Market

Online spending by the U.S. Hispanic market is projected to reach $21.6 billion by 2011. This domestic market is composed of U.S. natives and people from over 20 countries, with purchasing power estimated at over 1 trillion dollars as of 2010 (, 2010). Over 50% of U.S. Hispanic households own computers and Latinos in the USA spend nearly 20% more time online than the general, domestic population. Clearly, one of the richest non-English e-Commerce markets exists right under your nose, here in the United States of America.

USA Hispanic Online Market Statistics
  • Purchasing Decisions: the U.S. Hispanic market considers the Internet the premier source of information for major purchasing decisions.
  • Time online: U.S. Hispanics spend 20% more time online and view 25% more pages than the general population. Beyond the workplace, domestic Latinos use the Internet more than 17 hours per week, and more than half of that time is spent on Spanish language websites. U.S. Hispanics now spend more time online than watching television.
  • Search: Nearly 90% of Latinos with computer access search online on a regular basis. Significant portions of the U.S. Hispanic market prefer to search Spanish language websites, including Spanish language versions of popular search engines (Google Español and Yahoo Telemundo) and Spanish language search portals based in their own country of origin or heritage.
  • Communication: this market uses the Internet as a communication tool for social networking, and keeping in touch with family.
  • Family: Latinos in the USA consider the Internet a great source of information that also allows their children to make career advancement beyond previous generations.
  • Access: 65% of U.S. Hispanics over 18 have used a computer.
  • Median age of U.S. Hispanic population is 27.7 years compared to 36.8 years for the population as a whole.
  • Total U.S. Hispanic population: 46.9 million
USA Hispanic Markets At A Glance
  • Ethnic self-identification: Nearly two-thirds of Hispanics in the U.S. self-identify as being of Mexican origin. Nine of the other ten largest Hispanic origin groups-Puerto Rican, Cuban, Salvadoran, Dominican, Guatemalan, Colombian, Honduran , Ecuadorian and Peruvian-account for about a quarter of the U.S. Hispanic population. (
  • U.S. Cities with large Latino populations: Los Angeles: 8.4 million, New York: 4.4 million, Miami: 2.1 million, Houston: 1.9 million, Chicago: 1.9 million
  • Highest Hispanic state populations: 48% of the U.S. Hispanic population lives in California and Texas.
Insights Into U.S. Hispanic Consumer Values
  • Family: U.S. Hispanics are very close to their family and are more likely to choose a product that will benefit the whole family instead of just one individual.
  • Empowerment: Hispanics in the USA go online for purchasing information. In addition, they hold the belief that their children’s lives will be improved by the Internet.
  • Value: U.S. Hispanics prefer to buy products that are high in quality and will last for a long time.
  • Loyalty: Hispanics in the USA are very loyal to products, but only to products that they feel are designed to last.
  • Information: Hispanics do a lot of research before they decide to purchase a product; therefore, having online information available on products and services is important.
U.S. Hispanic Consumer Decision Making
  • Familiarity:
    Hispanics in the USA want to feel familiar and comfortable with any brands they are purchasing. They usually have some knowledge of brands through commercials, personal experience or word-of-mouth. Social networking is influential in this regard.
  • Relevance: Products need to be perceived as relevant by Latino consumers and also seem complimentary to Hispanic culture and lifestyle.
  • Word of Mouth: U.S. Hispanics talk and chat online about products, websites, and experiences they have had with companies, both positive and negative. If they have had a positive experience with a product, they will share their impressions with their family, friends, neighbors and social group.
  • Culture: The majority of domestic Hispanic people are very emotionally attached to their country-of-origin or the culture of their parents’ home country. These emotions have a positive impact on their purchasing decisions.
Primary Cultural Values Of The U.S. Hispanic Market
  • Familismo (family)
  • Simpatia (harmony in interpersonal relation)
  • Dignidad and respeto (dignity and respect)
  • Tradition (home country, culture and traditions)
U.S. Hispanic Consumers Segmented Via Demographics
  • New Lifers: Foreign-born U.S. Hispanics who have been in the USA on average of 8 years comprise this group; they moved to the USA to provide a better life for themselves and their family. This group speaks the Spanish language exclusively and has strong ties to the Latino culture and traditions of their homeland. New Lifers have an average household income of $40,000.
  • Old Ways: This group includes foreign-born Hispanics that have spent about half their lives in the U.S. They are on average 54 years old and speak the Spanish language almost exclusively. Members of this group are very proud of their heritage and Hispanic culture, although there has been some integration of U.S. cultural values. Average household income is $47,000 and over half of this group lives in New York, Los Angeles or Miami.
  • Settled In: The majority of this group are U.S.-born Hispanics and are 43 years of age with an average household income of $68,000 per year. Although they are still proud of their Hispanic culture and heritage, the effects of American cultural are evident. Less than 20% of this group prefer to speak the Spanish language exclusively; they are much more technologically savvy than either “New Lifers” or “Old Ways.”
  • The Pioneers: This group (average age is 65 years) was the first group to grow up in the United States; parents and extended family are their only ties to the “old country”. Around 20% prefer to speak the Spanish language exclusively and they have an annual household income of $50,000. This group still prefers products that reminds them of their heritage, but are willing to try new American products.
  • Young Americans: Approximately 75% of this group was born in the USA and has an average age of 26 years. With an average household income of $60,000 per year, only 17% of this group prefers to speak Spanish exclusively; members of this group are the most technologically advanced of the five groups, using the Internet the most. “Young Americans” are fully assimilated into American culture in terms of product usage but still show some preference for products that pay homage to their ancestry.
The Spanish Language as Used by U.S. Hispanics

HolaThe Spanish language is a Romance language that originated in the northern region of Spain, is the primary language of 21 countries, one of the six official languages of the United Nations, and the second most widely spoken language in the United States. The Spanish language is spoken by over 417 million people worldwide, (329 to 358 million as native speakers), and is the second most natively spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese. ( The Spanish language can have many variations in dialects, idioms, vocabulary, accents, and even grammar rules, that must be taken into consideration during translation and U.S. Hispanic website localization.

The Spanish language is read from left to right. The Spanish writing system uses the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet with the addition of the characters ñ, ch and ll. The use of accents such as á, é, ó, í and ú are used in some words to change meaning and pronunciation.

Although there isn’t an “official” universal Spanish dialect, it is possible to translate materials into a “neutral” Spanish, or what some copy writers and translators call a “Universal Spanish”. In response to the demand for Spanish language materials appropriate for the diverse groups of U.S.-based Spanish speakers, skilled teams of Spanish translators collaborating and using appropriately developed glossaries can translate and localize content into a “Universal Spanish” that effectively communicates to U.S. Latino consumers.

U.S. Hispanic Website Customization Considerations

The U.S. Latino market is not a homogenous culture, but instead one that is strongly tied to many different countries of origin. Therefore, many of the symbols and icons that are important to different segments of the Latino population are country-dependent. It is important to be aware of these differences in order to avoid cultural blunders and the inadvertent use of offensive symbols.

For example:


  • The Mano Fico: Carvings or paintings of the Mano Fico are carried as good luck charms to ward off the evil eye. The evil eye is thought to be a curse brought on the fortunate in order to bring them misfortune.
  • Weddings: If it rains on the night of a wedding, the bride will cry through the marriage.
  • Owls: when you see a white owl, it means that you will die.

Puerto Rico

  • Weddings: Wearing a pearl on the wedding day means bad luck and tears throughout the marriage. Wearing a diamond means good luck and happiness.


  • Weddings: For every pearl that a bride wears, a tear will be shed in her marriage.


  • Sea shells: Having sea shells in the interior of a house may bring bad luck.
  • Salt: Tossing salt over your should will bring bad luck.
U.S. Hispanic Color Connotations
  • Red: Religion, vibrancy, visibility and death
  • Green: hope
  • Black: Mourning, respect and sophistication
  • Purple: Death
U.S. Hispanic Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Strategies

A search engine marketing campaign for the U.S. Hispanic market should be multi-dimensional for both short-term and long-term success. Using Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns on targeted Hispanic websites and search engines is one way to produce immediate results and become familiar to the Hispanic market segment that is being targeted. Long term search engine marketing plans should include the use of keywords in both the Spanish language and in English. In addition, it is important to note that U.S. Hispanics tend to use longer strings of words in search phrases and/or questions than the rest of the U.S. market.

You may wish to review GPI’s blog post on Multilingual Search Engine Marketing Primer for issues involved in non-English SEM.

Popular U.S. Hispanic Websites
According to Neilson, the top English websites with U.S. Hispanics are:

  • ESPN
  • Miami Herald
  • Warner Bros. Online
  • Marvel
According to Neilson, the top Spanish websites with U.S. Hispanics are:

  • Star Media
  • Yahoo! en Español (Yahoo! Telemundo)
  • AOL Latino
  • La Opinión
  • MSN Latino

Goal: Getting top search results with your U.S. Hispanic SEM campaigns including U.S. Hispanic SEO

When localizing your U.S. Hispanic website, it is important to research cultural and linguistic issues specific to domestic Latino consumers. Keyword list localization is a very different process from standard Spanish translation; you should make sure that your SEM and/or localization agency has the experience and understands the requirements for performing this service so that they can provide you with appropriate Spanish keyword localization. This will ensure that your Spanish Web Localization optimizes your content for U.S. Hispanic search engines to produce maximum results.