In our most recent survey in March 2011, we asked people how much time they spend on an average week speaking in Spanish or in another language with their friends. This is pretty interesting to marketers because many times assumptions about language are polarized and largely misinterpreted.
The responses to our survey suggest that Hispanics that prefer Spanish, and to some extent Latinos who prefer English, and Asians, work double duty in satisfying their communications with friends. Hispanics who speak Spanish report about double the amount of friendly communication time per week than anyone else. Perhaps it is their mixing languages that create this impression of much more communication with friends. Then, on the other hand it can be that their culture of origin actually compels them to be more communicative.
Symptomatic and very interesting is that about 25% of the communication with friends among those Latinos who prefer English is still in Spanish. It looks like the Spanish language is not fully abandoned but that it is part of the online Latino daily life. They talk in Spanish with friends quite often.
When you compare across all ethnicities, non-Hispanic Whites seem to be the ones who spend the least amount of time per week communicating with friends. And that may be true if prior anthropological literature on individualism is accurate. Why bother talking with so many people?
The implications of these findings are of relevance to marketers on several levels. First , online Latinos who prefer Spanish may best be reached in both languages. Second, having a second language may amplify the repertoire of friendly connections people have and marketers need to be aware of that in creating outreach strategies.
In addition, this research confirms that language variety in reaching culturally diverse audiences may be well advised. Simply stated, marketing communications in diverse languages may not be a luxury but an important way of connecting with consumers.
The data for this study was collected during March 2011. This online sample was comprised of 500 respondents per segment, for a total of 2,500, based on quotas by gender, age, and geographic location. DMS Insights managed the sample and data collection and they graciously contributed their effort to the academic program of the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University. This study was conducted by the faculty and students of the graduate Multicultural Marketing Communication course offered by FSU this Spring
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