Spanish Will Always Be Critical for Reaching Hispanics Online

August 20, 2013

By Lee Vann

Young Latinos

Back in 2011 I wrote a piece outlining “5 Reasons for Using Spanish to Reach Hispanics Online” and thought I would revisit the topic after reading  this post that argues that digital marketers should “de-emphasize” the use of Spanish for reaching Hispanics online.

While the latter post makes sound recommendations to focus on key passion points for Hispanics, the Spanish language remains the ultimate passion point for all Hispanics.

Spanish Is Really Important for Hispanics

Regardless of language preference, for Hispanics there is nothing more culturally relevant than Spanish and the amount to which they use it —and the way they use it— might evolve as they become more acculturated and embrace technology, but research shows Spanish will remain central to their identity.

A 2012 report found that “three-quarters of U.S. Hispanic adults prefer to speak at least some Spanish” (75%).  They looked at language usage by generation and confirmed that 45% of third generation Hispanics say they prefer to speak Spanish at least some of the time.

More recent AHAA and Nielsen research  also found that 75% of upscale Hispanics speak some Spanish and that the percentage of upscale Hispanics that are Spanish dominant grew 18% between 2010 and 2012.

HHC Group Shot, staff headshots (Photos: SHana Sureck)Spanish is not only important for Hispanics today, but will also be important tomorrow.  A 2012 report by the Pew Research Hispanic Center found that “95% of Hispanics believe it is very important for future generations of Hispanics in the U.S. to be able to speak Spanish”.

Hispanic Digital Growth Is Being Fueled by Spanish Speakers

Savvy marketers need to look at target markets today and into the future in order to identify opportunities.   Recent research by the Pew Research Hispanic Center highlights a clear opportunity in the Spanish-language digital market.

The following tables take data from the Pew Group and compute Internet penetration in 2012 and growth from 2010 – 2012 by segment:


  • English Dominant –            89% penetration, 2% growth
  • Bilingual –                         83% penetration, 7% growth
  • Spanish Dominant           63% penetration, 27% growth

Foreign or U.S. Born

  • U.S. Born–                       89% penetration, 4% growth
  • Foreign Born                    69% penetration, 18% growth

Computers and online latinosAlthough Internet penetration is lowest among Spanish Dominant and Foreign born segments, the strong growth rates within these segments point to a clear opportunity for marketers to in fact use Spanish.

Marketers Should Adapt to Evolving Use of Spanish

We must not lose sight of the fact that Spanish is here to stay. Even English dominant Hispanics have emotional ties to Spanish, and that won’t change for generations to come.