U.S. Hispanic Consumer E-Commerce Preferences: Expectations and Attitudes toward Web Content

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The U.S. Hispanic Internet user is an emerging and relatively unexplored consumer segment in the marketing literature. In this study an attempt is made to gain phenomenological insights into the web site content expectations of U.S. Hispanic consumers. The study uses the focus group method to generate an experiential account of U.S. Hispanic consumers' web design expectations. The themes and insights generated from focus groups then form the basis for further ideation using the brainwriting technique. The findings from the study will help web marketers to develop U.S. Hispanic-centric web sites that speak to the U.S. Hispanic market.

Keywords: U.S. Hispanic consumer behavior, online consumer behavior, e-commerce, culture, adaptation

1. Introduction

Within the United States of America Hispanic consumers are an increasingly important strategic concern for businesses and are increasingly affecting various firm activities, including firm web content. The number of Hispanics in the U.S. was estimated to be 41.9 million in 2005 (Hakimzadeh, 2006), and, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, it will reach 102.6 million by 2050. This is an increase of almost 188 percent. The number of U.S. Hispanics who are online is also rapidly growing, with 16.7 million Internet users in 2006. This number is expected to grow by 33% over the next four years, reaching 20.9 million by 2010 (Williamson, 2006). U.S. Hispanic purchasing power is also rapidly growing and is expected to reach almost $1 trillion by 2010 (HispanTelligence®, 2005). Much of this purchasing is online. According to an America Online/RoperASW survey (www.timewarner.com), almost 44 percent of online Hispanics reported making web purchases in 2003. Recently, Jupiter Research predicted U.S. Hispanics online shoppers will spend $12.8 billion in 2007, and this number is expected to reach almost $21.6 billion by 2011 (Jones, 2007). Thus, the large and growing Hispanic online market cannot be ignored by web marketers attempting to expand their revenues and consumer base.

This surge in online activity by U.S. Hispanics has not gone unnoticed. Web sites that have targeted Hispanics with Spanish-language content have emerged as the most visited and popular among online Hispanics. According to the ComScore Media Metrix Survey, the Spanish language Terra.com has ranked number one among online Hispanics, followed by the Spanish language web sites Yahoo! Spanish, YupiMSN, Univision, Wanadoo, and AOL Latino (Israel and Nelson, 2005). Terra.com attributes its success to the unique cultural content that it offers, content not found in English-language portals (Vallejo, 2005). These U.S. Hispanic targeting web sites show that firms are beginning to focus on the online Hispanic population, and they are adapting the web content to this subculture. The focus on Spanish language also has societal benefits as it provides Spanish speakers access to content and products previously unavailable.

While there is an increasing firm focus on online U.S. Hispanic consumers, few academic studies have investigated this subculture's attitudes toward web content (Korgaonkar, et al., 2001). The broad objective of this study is to fill this gap in the academic literature through an analysis of U.S. Hispanic online consumer web preferences.

While the academic literature has not yet focused much attention on subcultures and web content, a stream of research exists focusing on American subcultures and more traditional marketing issues. This literature finds that consumers that maintain strong ties with their home country have a preference for marketing messages reflecting their home country culture (Singh and Pereira, 2005) and in their home country language (Koslow, et al., 1994). This overall trend has been found for a variety of ethnic groups, including U.S. Hispanics (O'Guinn, et al., 1985; Roslow and Nicholls, 1996; Wilson, 2007), Indian-Americans (Khairullah and Khairullah, 1999), and ethnic Chinese-Americans (Taiwanese) (Lee, 1993). …