Posted by: Laura Phillips Garner | January 27, 2010

Translation Is Not Enough

Number 8 AT&T is one of 18 2009 U.S. Fortune 100 companies with a Spanish-language section clearly linked to its corporate Web site's homepage.

Translating a corporate Web site into Spanish to market to U.S. Latino consumers is not enough, though it’s a start.

The 2006 AOL Latino Hispanic Cyberstudy found that more than 16 million or 55 percent of the total U.S. Hispanic population are online. Furthermore, a 2008 Pew Research Center study determined that 77 percent of U.S. born and 52 percent of foreign-born Latinos are online, with the latter increasing 12 percent in two years. With the American Marketing Association projecting in 2007 that Hispanic Americans alone will have $1.2 billion in buying power by 2011, companies are starting to recognize that appealing to this market is just good business.

Effectively marketing to Latinos online and otherwise is more complicated. Companies must take into account the cultural traditions and mores of the people from more than 20 countries that make up this diverse group. Businesses also must consider that U.S. Latino consumers approach the Internet differently depending on how acculturated they are. The AOL study found that while the 60 percent of Hispanics who consider themselves acculturated prefer online content in English, 40 percent are fine with content in Spanish. Only 37 percent of unacculturated Hispanics prefer both languages, and 15 percent want only Spanish.

Yet, an analysis of the Web sites of the 2009 U.S. Fortune 100 companies as listed at on January 25 found only 18 percent had an easily identifiable link to a Spanish-language section on the corporate Web site’s homepage. Google searches uncovered another 24 percent that had information in Spanish or separate Spanish-language sites for subsidiaries, divisions or brands that were not navigable from the corporate homepage.

Companies are starting to recognize they must find ways to reach Hispanics that go beyond language. According to Advertising Age, Unilever, McDonald’s, Nestle, H&R Block, Kraft, 7-Eleven, and Sara Lee have joined Latinum, a peer-to-peer network for Hispanic marketers founded in late 2009 by David Wellisch, founder of AOL Latino, and Businessman Michael Klein. Latinum and its members companies realize that the Hispanic market is an attractive market to go after, but problems include execution challenges, inconsistent results, unclear return on investment, and barriers to ongoing commitment.Latinum members will share data and best practices and pool resources to figure out ways to solve those problems. They identify acculturation as a big issue because Hispanics often live in two worlds, and the degree they live in each world affects their perspectives as consumers.

—Laura Phillips Garner



  1. Hi,
    What a great post and so spot on!

    While the Latino/Hispanic market is growing very quickly, there are sensitivities that are important even to those of this community that are “acculturated” and may even prefer English.One site that seems to do this better than most is that of Allstate:

    This site goes beyond just being translated into Spanish. It is also sensitive to topics that may be of interest (from an insurance point of view) to this community, as opposed to an “Anglo” site. The emphasis on family is obvious on this version of Allstae’s site, as is their sensitivity to hurricane insurance and the needs of teen drivers.

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