Hispanics Still Prefer to Bank in English

Adam Rust

Almost one in five Hispanic Americans is unbanked.  Among those who do, how are they distinct from other groups?

The evidence says that the longer a recent immigrant remains in the United States, his or her interest in having an American bank account increases. An account oriented to non-English speakers evokes the past, whereas a financial product offered in English affirms the person’s sense of being on a trajectory toward assimilation.

The implications run counter to what might be intuitive. Their preferences mean that most prefer to bank in English and not in Spanish. They resist marketing that seems to target their status as Hispanic, preferring instead to find accounts that reflect their integration into the mainstream economy.

Some findings from a recent study on the use of mobile devices by Hispanics for their banking activities:

·         While most Hispanics use an Android device, those using iPhones or iPads are more likely to use a mobile device for banking.

·         Seven in ten use a smartphone for banking, and more than one-third do so every day. https://www.banknews.com/blog/top-10-hispanic-mobile-banking-trends/

Nonetheless, advertisers must walk a careful path. Even though research shows that they prefer to conduct business in English, it also finds that Hispanics appreciate when companies make an effort to message in Spanish. While only one-third of Hispanics rely on English as their primary language at home, more than half prefer to use English when they go online. Only one is six sought online information exclusively in Spanish.

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Hispanics will spend $1.7 trillion in the United States this year, and advertisers are spending billions to get their attention. 

Hispanics make up fifteen percent of the population using a prepaid debit card.

Given the current size and the future projected growth of their spending, Nielsen says that Hispanics are “super consumers.” 

Marketplace actors recognize this fact. Tracfone is owned by TelMex, but brands only one of its ten core products in Spanish (Telcel America). When Mango Financial sought a spokesperson to market their prepaid debit card, they hired George Lopez, an American-born Mexican-American comedian. 

Nielsen concluded that the return-on-investment for Latino-focused marketing campaigns was forty percent higher when advertisers used television ads in English. 

All of this should underscore my premise: while it is still sensible to include Spanish when marketing to Latinos, it is wise to include English-language content as well. While companies who want to strike the right balance will still make use of Spanish, the best return comes with English-language messaging.

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