For retailers, the current back-to-school shopping season represents a positive jump-start of sales, shaking the industry out of its annual summer doldrums. In terms of revenue generation, back-to-school season is second only to winter holiday shopping.
Spanish-speaking Hispanic consumers represent a powerful growth opportunity for retailers, particularly when retailers serve these constituents in their preferred language. This is especially true online. Consumers transact more on websites that authentically speak their language.
According to eMarketer, overall back-to-school spending will reach $828.81 billion this year, an increase of 2.6% over last year. That’s a larger growth rate than in 2015.
This growth will be even more robust in the e-commerce sector. E-retailers will see an increase in back-to-school spending by 15.3%, representing more than $65.42 billion. This year, e-commerce represents 8% of total back-to-school sales, the highest amount ever. In fact, about 65% of American consumers will do some back-to-school spending on the web this year.
A Growing, Tech-Savvy Demographic
Now let’s put the spotlight on the Hispanic market. Hispanics represent the largest ethnic or racial minority in the U.S., comprising about 18% of the population. 1.2 million Hispanics joined the U.S. population between 2014 and 2015, representing nearly half of the total population added during that time frame. About 75% of Hispanics speak Spanish at home.
Hispanic families are younger and larger than the non-Hispanic average, which is evident during back-to-school shopping season. Larger families represent higher household spends for back-to-school shopping. Last year, Hispanics planned to spend $368 on back-to-school products, nearly $40 more than the non-Hispanic average. (About 50% of Hispanics plan to spend more during back-to-school; the non-Hispanic average is 35%.) According to market research, e-commerce sites represent the second most-popular destination for back-to-school shopping among Hispanics. E-commerce sites have a lot in common with Hispanics’ No. 1 destination, big-box discount stores: they often offer lots of product choices at lower prices. “Retailers that focus on these two strategies—in essence, catering to the needs of the Hispanic shopper—will earn a more significant share of wallet from this buying group,” one analyst wrote.
Depending on product type, Hispanics do up to 40% of their back-to-school shopping online.
Back-to-school product research and purchasing via mobile phones is at an all-time high, too. Last year, American parents used their smartphones to research just as frequently as they used their desktop browsers—a retail first. Last August, m-commerce sales grew by 42%, far greater than the lift traditional e-commerce saw of 12%.
The growth is even greater among U.S. Hispanics. Hispanics lead the country in adoption of new devices, and are widely considered “power users” of mobile devices. Ninety percent of Hispanic smartphone owners plan to use their phones to shop during back-to-school season. In fact, mobile coupon and deal apps influence these shoppers more than TV ads, social media or in-store signage.
Understanding Education’s Value Among Hispanics
The importance of education is a big deal within Hispanic families. As a result, high school dropout rates have decreased during the past decade, while college enrollment has increased. Even so, great disparities exist.
Last year, only 77% of Hispanics aged 25 to 29 had a high school diploma or equivalent. That’s much lower than the average for whites (95%), African-Americans (93%) and Asians/Pacific Islanders (95%). This gulf is equally apparent for college graduates: only 16% of Hispanics have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to whites (43%), African-Americans (21%) and Asians/Pacific Islanders (63%).
Now more than ever, Hispanic parents are evangelizing the value of a good education. It’s a politically-important topic: nearly 85% of Hispanics say education is a key voting issue for the 2016 election. And Hispanic kids are enrolling in two- and four-year colleges at higher growth rates than whites and African-Americans.
This is great news for young Hispanics—and it’s a powerful opportunity for businesses willing to illustrate they understand this movement, and cater to them online in their preferred language.
Recommendations for E-Retailers
Based on exclusive analytics we have from operating Spanish-language websites for hundreds of U.S. brands, it’s clear companies that engage U.S. Hispanics during back-to-school season can generate untapped revenue.
For one U.S. big-box retail client, we noticed that back-to-school Spanish website traffic picked up during the second week in July. August traffic is surging. Due to the numerous product categories the retailer offers—from clothes to appliances—this spike in traffic represents less than 5% of the site’s total traffic, but it’s still led to sales and conversions.
There are many ways to further boost traffic, engagement and sales. Our recommendation: Big-box retailers serving Hispanics with Spanish-language sites should create and actively promote back-to-school themed landing pages for supplies, clothing and electronics.
For fashion e-retailers, back-to-school season can account for surges of 25% higher traffic to Spanish websites, we’ve found. That higher engagement can lead to more conversions through savvy promotions. Our recommendation: double-down on sales events. One MotionPoint sportswear client saw a 13% increase in transactions and 14% in revenue by simply offering a back-to-school discount.
Regardless of your retail vertical, offer marketing and promotional messaging for U.S. Hispanics that resonates. For a translated website, this requires crafting localized content that illustrates your company’s understanding of their needs.
Articulate that your business knows that choice and price are important to your Hispanic shoppers, and deliver on it. Further, consider the great value Hispanic parents place on their children’s education these days, and cater to it, whenever appropriate.