[tweetmeme]The Hispanic market is booming, and opportunities abound for entrepreneurs willing to serve this market. One of the fastest growing consumer segments in the United States today is the Hispanic market. The number of Hispanic households is estimated to increase at a faster rate than any other group in the United States, continuing a demographic explosion that began several decades ago. Assuming that growth rates persist at their current phase, it is estimated that Hispanics will account for nearly one out of every five American residents by 2012. As such, opportunities abound for small businesses that consider implementing new approaches and strategies to target the Latin Americans.
However, one size doesn’t fit all with regards to targeting the Hispanic market. Big retailers are starting to realize that the Hispanic market in and by itself is diverse. The Latino market is comprised of various segments, with various culture distinctions. The Hispanics born and lived exclusively in the US behave and consume differently than Hispanics who migrated to the US.
Sears.com recently launched a website targeting the Puerto Rican market called SearsPR.com http://www.searspr.com. The number of this demographic persuaded them to pursue this opportunity. In an interview published in DMNews.com, Imran Jooma, SVP and president of e-commerce for Sears Holdings, explained what prompted them to start SearsPR.com:
“There are approximately four million residents living in Puerto Rico and another four million people living … within the US that identify themselves as being of Puerto Rican heritage.”
The new Searspr.com site specifically designed for the Puerto Rico market includes features such as English and Spanish language capabilities, local pricing and promotions, and an online product catalog exclusively designed for customers residing in Puerto Rico. It offers a number of ways to shop:
- Online shopping via SearsPR.com
- Delivery to Puerto Rico with the ability to buy online and pick up the purchase in certain store locations
- The ability to use web terminals inside Sears stores to send purchases to Puerto Rican addresses with free shipping,”
What Small Businesses Can Learn:
1. There are opportunities in reaching out to particular demographics. Whether you are running an ecommerce site or even an information site, there are benefits to thinking of ways to extend your business’ target market to cover Hispanics (or any other geographic or demographic markets).
2. For a web-based business, the easiest way to reach Hispanics is to translate all or parts of your website to Spanish. You can opt to create a new domain for the foreign language version of your site; or you can use your existing site and put the Spanish version in the same domain. You could use a directory structure under a /spanish or /es folder. In other words, the Spanish version of example.com/whatever.txt would be located at example.com/spanish/whatever.txt.
What SearsPR.com did is to use a separate domain name for this new website (they are Sears, afterall, so issues with regards to authority and links are not as big of a challenge compared to small businesses). Their website offers users the option of perusing the site in English and Spanish.
3. What Sears has shown is that there is a big market for immigrants. Hispanic immigrants, such as Puerto Ricans that Sears has targeted, tend to provide support to relatives back home. Aside from the money that they send, the US-based immigrants want to send goodies and stuffs to their relatives. However, the shipping costs of purchasing the items in the US and sending them to Puerto Rico can be prohibitive.
What this new website from Sears did is to eliminate that barrier by making it easy for the Puerto Rican market living on “the mainland” to send items to families and loved ones living in Puerto Rico, which was not cost-effective before. There are big opportunities in replicating this business model for other markets, and make it easy for expatriates from other Latin American countries as well as other groups such as Filipinos living abroad.