Retailers Awaken to Spanish Speakers

According to this article in USA Today, U.S. retailers are finally waking up to lucrative – and growing – market right under their noses: Hispanics.

AOL, Nissan, and Office Depot have all launched – or are launching – Spanish-language sites. Companies are not just adding Spanish for their customers. According to Office Depot, the “Spanish-language version also was influenced by the company’s employees, 15% of whom are Hispanic.”

According to Nissan North America, “Bilingual customers are more likely to research and purchase an expensive product in their native language.” And Autobytel claims its Hispanic audience nearly tripled to 1.1 million since it launched a Spanish site in December of last year.

Statistics show that companies in search of growth simply cannot depend on English speakers. According to the research firm comScore Networks, in April, 12.7 million Hispanics were online, up 7% from six months earlier. Compare that to overall U.S. Internet growth, which was up just 2%.

So that begs the question: Where are the Spanish-language Web sites of Home Depot, Buick, eTrade? Companies cannot afford to ignore customers these days. They need to approach language as another valuable sales tool – and start using this tool aggressively.

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