U.S. Hispanics Surf 'Net in English and Spanish

Spanish. English. Who cares? Hispanic

Internet users in the U.S. apparently don't give a hoot if you communicate with them en inglés or en español, according to a survey, the findings of which were released today.

Fifty-one percent of Hispanic Internet users in the U.S. are bilingual and don't care whether the Web sites they visit and shop at are in Spanish or English, according to the survey conducted by Research & Research and commissioned by online retailer Español.com Inc.

However, among those who did express a language preference, 41 percent said they prefer English-language Web sites, while only 8 percent leaned towards Spanish-language sites.

Either way, the study suggests retailers should be paying attention to this segment of the U.S. population, since the typical Hispanic Internet user is young (29 years old), makes an average of $47,410 per year and gets on the Internet very frequently -- 73 percent of respondents said they access the Internet every day, and another 14 percent do so five or six days per week, according to the study.

Users are also opening their wallets while they surf. In the past 12 months, the average respondent made six online purchases and spent a total of $547, while 62 percent of respondents made at least one online purchase.

Their reasons for shopping online are similar to those that drive most Internet users, as are the products they buy on the Web, the survey said. U.S. Hispanics mostly buy software, music CDs and cassettes, books, PC accessories, videos, magazine subscriptions and office supplies over the Internet, according to the study. They shop online because it saves them time, they find low prices, they can order products easily and they can avoid pressure from salespeople.

Still, buying is not among the top Internet activities of U.S. Hispanics. Those would be using e-mail, visiting Web sites, obtaining general information, getting travel information, transferring files and reading international news.

The most popular music and book online stores among U.S. Hispanics are Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and CD Now.

There are about 30 million Hispanics in the U.S., of which about 5 million have access to the Internet, according to the study.

A majority of Hispanic Internet users in the U.S. are male (65 percent) and foreign-born (63 percent), according to the study. Most of the respondents born outside the U.S. are natives of México (36 percent).

The study, for which 1,861 U.S. Hispanic Internet users were surveyed, also found that Spanish-language portals are failing to attract U.S. Hispanics, who instead seem to prefer doing Web searches from English-language portals.

Yahoo's English-language portal came in first in this category, with 75 percent of respondents saying they have used it, followed by Altavista (40 percent), Lycos' English site (30 percent) and Excite (30 percent).

The most widely used Spanish-language portal was Yahoo's, with 10 percent of respondents saying they have visited it, followed by StarMedia (5 percent), Que Pasa? (3 percent), Yupi (3 percent) and Lycos in Spanish (2 percent).

Español.com, based in Wakefield, Massachusetts, can be reached at http://www.espanol.com/. Research & Research is at 1-787-620-6700 or at http://www.research-research.com/.

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