We’ve covered some tips for localizing for Latin America in a previous blog, but another thing to keep in mind is that the U.S. has 41 million Spanish speakers, the 2nd largest Spanish-speaking population in the world after Mexico (121 million). When localizing content for the Hispanic (a term we’ll define below) community in the United States, there are similarities as well as differences compared to localizing for Latin American.
The Spanish-speaking community in the U.S. has developed its own linguistic culture and specific needs and demands. In this blog, we will explore these topics and why companies should adapt their content to reach the Hispanic audience in the U.S.
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photo by Sydney Rae
“Hispanic” is a pan-ethnic term–sometimes used interchangeably with “Latino”–to generally refer to people that identify themselves as being of a Spanish-speaking background or can trace their family origin to a Spanish-speaking country. By the year 2050, it is estimated that the Spanish-speaking population of the U.S. will surpass that of Mexico to make it the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world with approximately 132.8 million speakers.
Currently, the U.S. Hispanic community makes up over 14% of the general population and is considered the single largest minority group in the U.S. and the minority that has the greatest buying power. There is also a large young Hispanic population: 40% of the Hispanic community corresponds to millennials (born between 1981-1996) and just over a quarter of the U.S. population under the age of nine is Hispanic. The Hispanic community is also very tech savvy: on average Hispanic Americans spend more time on their mobile devices than non-Hispanics (26% compared to 20%) and spend almost four times as long shopping online.
With these statistics and numbers, companies would do well to make sure their content is adapted so that it engages the Hispanic community. According to a 2011 study by Experian Simmons, 56% of Spanish-speaking customers expressed that they showed more loyalty to brands that advertised in Spanish and also incorporated Hispanic culture into their marketing campaigns. By localizing their content specifically for the Hispanic American community, it has been shown that companies have been able to see four times the return on investment compared to brands that just translated their content from English to Spanish.
What are some of the linguistic and cultural trends companies should keep in mind when localizing for the Hispanic community? Let’s find out.
photo by Adam Thomas
As a group, Hispanic Americans are quite heterogeneous with families that come from a variety of Spanish-speaking countries. The rich mix of Spanish dialects and cultures in the United States reflects this incredible variety. There is no single official U.S. Spanish–there are an estimated 21 national varieties of Spanish here.
However there is a uniquely Hispanic American linguistic phenomenon known as “Spanglish.” As the name suggests, Spanglish (Espanglish), is a hybrid language of Spanish and English and is used as a catch-all term for when an individual combines Spanish and English in their speech. This mixing of Spanish and English in the United States is estimated to go back 150 years to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo when a large part of what was then Mexico became part of the United States.
Since then there has been some creative and fun Spanglish vocabulary that has evolved:
Spanglish is sometimes referred to as a form of language code-switching in which the speaker switches between the two languages or vocabulary–in this case– as a result of growing up in a Spanish-speaking household in an English-speaking environment. One use of Spanglish in advertising was Toyota’s marketing slogan “Más Loud” encouraging Hispanic customers to have fun and get loud at their sponsored music events.
Many Hispanic Americans may use Spanglish but are also perfectly comfortable speaking fluently in either English or Spanish–an estimated 59% of Hispanics are bilingual. As far as culture, many Hispanics identify themselves by their family’s country of origin. In the U.S. 63% of Hispanic Americans are from a Mexican background with the other major groups being Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Salvadorans, and Columbians.
Another example of Toyota marketing effectively to the Hispanic community was their “Más Que Un Auto” nameplate campaign. Meaning “More Than a Car,” Toyota–based on research they did on the Hispanic community–found out that many Hispanics view their cars as another member of the family that they gave nicknames to and treated with care. Through the campaign, thousands of people ordered their own customized vehicle nameplate and one lucky winner received a private concert with the Puerto Rican musician Ricky Martin.
This campaign helped raise the visibility and respect of the Toyota brand with Hispanic Americans and developed a loyal following in their community.
photo by Simon Maage
As you can see from the statistics above, the Hispanic community is a young, growing, tech savvy population in the U.S. that may become the largest Spanish-speaking group in the world this century.
What that means for companies is that it is important for them to do their research in order to localize their content for Hispanic Americans and develop marketing campaigns that appeal to them through English, Spanish, or even Spanglish promotions.
By understanding this growing demographic and their specific concerns and needs, a brand will be able to successfully build their audience within the Hispanic community.
Want to record voice-over/dubbing content for the U.S. Hispanic population? Download our free checklist below!