Website ‘en español’? Not so fast…

Home Depot Logo

According to Centris, two-thirds of all Hispanic households in the US read Spanish fluently. National retailers have quickly taken note of this staggering statistic by developing full-fledged, Spanish-language websites. Companies such as JetBlue, CVS, and Home Depot are just some of those that have taken on this robust endeavor. Their objective is to provide the multicultural consumer with a website that mirrors their original, general market site but with more relevant messaging for the shopper.

Mercury Mambo’s “Hispanic Shopper & Retailer Study” indicates that 88% of Hispanics own a computer, while 93% of all Hispanics have access to the Internet at home. Additionally, 34% of those who browse in Spanish spend between 1 to 3 hours on the sites, compared to the 23% of Hispanics who browse for the same amount of time but on English websites. This can translate into an effective marketing campaign for retailers trying to appeal to a larger Hispanic demographic, given their strategy is founded on relevant research on the multicultural market.

Jet Blue Logo

JetBlue successfully launched their Spanish website in 2008. Based on their regional location, online users were redirected to the Spanish JetBlue homepage. Residents of Latin America or the Caribbean automatically see this Spanish version; since 27% of their commerce is handled in these areas, the Spanish site was an inevitable move. Travelers in the US, though, have a choice between languages. Mike Andujar, JetBlue’s web production manager, explains the company’s perception of going the extra “air” mile for the consumer, “We feel it’s important that we provide our Spanish-speaking customers with a site they feel most comfortable interacting with.”

As successful as some companies have been with their launch, Home Depot did not experience such triumph. The home improvement store’s Spanish-language website lasted only 6 months before officially dimming its lights. The Wall Street Journal reports that underwhelming sales revenue was to blame, as was the lack of distribution to cities where visitors of the Spanish site reside. Despite this setback, Home Depot launched a series of how-to videos in Spanish on their official YouTube channel. At last count, the channel had 13,771 subscribers and over 33 million views. Quite an intelligent tactic, since Hispanics utilize video streaming 50% more than the average US population, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Ultimately, Alejandra Barron, senior manager of multicultural marketing at Home Depot, sums it up best. “The nuances based on country of origin, acculturation and other factors present both a challenge and an opportunity.” Just because Spanish is the nation’s second most spoken language does not mean that all Spanish speakers will flock to the newly-minted websites. A mirror site of the originally-engineered website is truly needed for Hispanic consumers. A language divide does not mean a digital divide, and these examples are a case in point.

– written by Sofia Martinez