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The majority of US Hispanics speak English. Similarly, a majority speak Spanish to some degree. But there is not necessarily a demand for marketing in either English or Spanish. Rather, surveys and studies suggest that maintaining a connection to Hispanic culture is what counts, according to a new eMarketer report, “English vs. Español: Language Choices in Hispanic Marketing.”
A February 2014 study by Horowitz Associates examined US Hispanics’ use of both new and traditional media. It found that out of 4 hours of viewing, 3 of those hours were on English-language channels. Yet around two-thirds said staying connected to Hispanic culture was important.
That connection decreased, however, as English-language orientation increased—from 82% for Spanish-dominant Hispanics to 48% for English-oriented. (Horowitz defines Spanish-dominant as those who report speaking only or mostly Spanish in the home; bilinguals speak Spanish and English equally well, and English-oriented speak only or mostly English.)
The complexity of measuring emotional response to advertising makes drawing conclusive insights difficult. Anecdotally, however, advertising executives and marketers speak frequently about the emotional pull of Spanish-language advertising.
Andy Hasselwander, vice president of product development and professional services at Latinum Network, said, “Language is always going to be critically important; more important than food or music to this consumer. [The number of] bilingual consumers will continue to grow. The emotional connection will continue to be important, even when the more functional necessity [might fade].”
Being able to move between both languages creates a range of choices for US Hispanics—and challenges for marketers. “It’s not unreasonable for a college-aged millennial who was born in the US to be on campus, watching a Univison novela,” said Joe Gutierrez, managing director and head of strategic planning at Pinta. “I don’t think she distinguishes it as something her parents watch. It’s innately hers.” While that English-dominant college kid may seem general market in many ways, the connection to his or her culture creates a moving target for marketers.
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