Opportunism, Thy Name is Spanish

From Verizon Wireless to Office Depot, executives have finally awakened to the importance of the Spanish-speaking market within the US. Consider the following stats, compliments of The Cobalt Group:

    The US Hispanic population is the fastest-growing demographic group in the

    country, doubling in the past 20 years and now representing nearly 40 million people, and 12.5% of the total US population.

    Despite the fact that many US Hispanics are bilingual, almost two-thirds of

    US Hispanics identified Spanish as the language they are most comfortable

    speaking, and 92% of Hispanic adults read, watch, or listen to media in


The Cobalt Group is a Web design and management firm specializing in the automotive retail market. They provided me with these statistics to help promote their recently launched “itra Spanish eBusiness Program”at www.spanishnitra.com.

The service consists of Spanish Web design templates and translation support services of up to 500 words per month.

According to the Cobalt Group, 84% of Hispanic Internet users indicated they would be more likely to do their automotive shopping online if they could do so in Spanish. This is a compelling number, and I can foresee an increasing number of dealers heeding this advice and looking to The Cobalt Group for translation services.

Another reason for translation agencies to worry?

While the translation industry is clearly booming, the agencies themselves are being commoditized like never before. In the case of The Cobalt Group, no mention is made of any translation agency or the quality of the translation itself. The client only knows that they get 500 words of translation per month. In the eyes of the automotive client, The Cobalt Group IS the translation agency, despite the fact that they farm out the translation work. Perhaps over time clients will demand greater transparency –- wanting to know who the agency is and how it manages quality. If not, translation agencies are in increasing danger of being treated like so many print shops — where buying decisions are based on pricing and turnaround and little more.

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