AOL’s Hispanic Cyberstudy – A Closer Look

Feb 25, 10 AOL’s Hispanic Cyberstudy – A Closer Look

Recently, AOL partnered with Cheskin to release its 2010 Hispanic Cyberstudy, a look at Hispanics online. Going through the results of the study, we wanted to look at some of the main themes explored that will affect any marketer looking to connect with the segment online:

Online vs. offline Hispanics
It’s interesting to see how the online Hispanic population differs from the offline community in terms of acculturation levels. Offline, you’ll notice that the majority of U.S. Hispanics fall into the Hispanic dominant category (52%). Conversely, 46 % of online Hispanics are categorized as U.S. dominant (prefer English, US-born, etc.), followed by biculturals and, lastly, the Hispanic dominant users.

However, when you compare online Hispanics to the general market population online, you’ll see that some of the same trends that apply to the Hispanic market as a whole still remain true. Online Hispanics are still younger, with larger households – 46% are under 35 years old, as opposed to 28% of the entire U.S. online population.

The role of the Internet
AOL’s study finds that 72% of online Hispanics trust product rating sites, versus 28% that have more confidence in friends’ opinions. This can have important implications for WOM practices in the Hispanic market – especially for this younger, English-dominant, bicultural segment.

A full 64% of online Hispanics consider the Internet the best place to keep up with current events, signaling an opportunity for Hispanic PR practitioners. In second place, 57% go online to find deals. In general, the Internet informs Hispanic purchasing decisions, with the most popular activities including price comparison and finding where to buy a product.

Early adopters
We’ve long heard that Hispanics are early adopters of technology, especially in the wireless industry where this segment often overindexes on mobile data applications and other products. However, the AOL study makes an interesting point – technological sophistication doesn’t necessarily dominate only among bicultural/US-dominant Hispanics. Quite the opposite – less acculturated Hispanics were most likely to be early adopters and considered tech experts by family and friends. 

Identifying future trends
AOL looked at Hispanic power users online. Currently, this group makes up one fifth of online Hispanics and may be an indicator of how Hispanic online use will develop. The two most interesting points I found were that 57% of these power users connect via mobile device and that this group consists of content creators. I’m looking forward to seeing how this will affect (and hopefully add to) the already growing Latino blogosphere.

Speaking of Spanish content…
It’s interesting to look at the language issue online. According to AOL’s results, online Hispanics prefer English language sites. However, this is clearly influenced by the limited availability of Spanish content online (7.9% vs. 27.6% of online content written in English). Additionally, online Hispanics recognize the limitations of Spanish-language content, especially in the U.S., where many sites are straight translations of a portion of the content found on the main, English site. So it’s no surprise that online Hispanics prefer English sites, when those offer more content, quality and functionality.

I’m curious to see if and how this trend might shift with an increase in quality, original Spanish-language content online (shameless plug of a recent site we created for one of our clients). Considering AOL’s find that a sizable percentage of the Hispanic segment is feeling underserved due to this disparity between English and Spanish sites, it seems that there exists a huge opportunity for marketers looking to meaningfully connect with the market. Regardless of language, the study found that even English-preferred Hispanics still want online content to reflect their cultural roots and U.S. experience.

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