Monday, March 2, 2009

Why Hispanics Shop Online, but Don't Buy

Retailers are grasping at any opportunity to grow their sales in these turbulent times. Hispanics and our enormous buying power - over $980 billion in 2008 is certainly an attractive audience. $980 billion! To put that in context, that means that the 46 million Hispanics living in the U.S. have the second largest Spanish-speaking economy in the world, larger than Spain and second only to Mexico. That won't last. In 4-5 years, the U.S. Hispanic population will be wealthier than the entire Mexican economy which includes 110 million people.

So, Hispanics are critical to growing retailer business. No question. Then why is it that of all the retailers, just Best Buy and The Home Depot, have Spanish-language ecommerce-enabled sites?

Is it because Hispanics who can afford to buy online speak English so what's the use of maintaing two sites? Nope. That's silly. 60% of the Hispanic audience is Spanish-Dominant and another 15% is Bilingual - that doesn't mean those folks don't speak English. Most of us do. But we still want to do business in español.

Is it because Hispanics can't afford to buy online? No. See my earlier point about our buying power.

We Hispanics do shop online. Tons of data from AOL/Roper and Comscore support our propensity to research and shop online...but we don't really buy online. Huh? Where's the disconnect?

The reality is that while we love to research and shop online, we love to shop in person more. So while my mom may check out to see what cute tops they have, she is less likely to click and pay for it online. She wants to try it on, feel the material and inspect the seams to make sure they weren't poorly made and make sure it fits well. And mostly, she just wants to get out of the house and take a stroll at the mall.

I've seen a bunch of data to support this concept of traffic vs. sales. Hispanic traffic to stores remains strong, but we aren't buying as much...that's just the nature of the economy and this will ultimately improve.

However, what about online shopping sites? Should retailers just write off the Hispanic consumer? Hardly. It takes time to change consumer behavior and you don't want to be the retailer who missed the boat with Hispanic online buying (as oppose to shopping.) Also, keep in mind that it's not like they aren't buying at your retail location. If you treat your Spanish-language website like a really cool catalogue or very interactive window shopping experience, you may position yourself for future growth into a full ecommerce enabled site when the time is right.

1 comment:

  1. so.. in your own experience...
    ¿why should a company invest in a great informational site and not to expect nothing in return just because hispanic do not have that behavior? I like your point, invest for the future however, how do you mesure that in money, how will you convince a company to invest in a spanish site without $$$$$$$$$.
    By the way, I work for a very sucessful company in Chicago, this year we decided to target the latinos, create the webstite in spanish, facebook, twitter, and send informational email twice a week to subscribers. the number of subscribers increase every day but no matter how hard we advertise, we do not make them to buy, whereas the site in English keeps growing more and more.
    I appreciate any comments.