Why Aren't Brands Making More Apps for the Hispanic Market?

A Survey Finds Few Spanish-Language Apps for a Highly Engaged Group

By Published on .

Hispanics are the demographic most engaged with mobile devices, yet far too many feel that brands aren't doing enough to make their apps accessible to Spanish speakers.

In a recent survey that our agency commissioned by the research agency YouGov, 45% of fluent Spanish speakers aged 18-34 said they felt this way. Among all the 500 Hispanics polled, nearly one out of four (22%) said that they would be much more interested in learning about a brand and its offerings if that brand offered an app in Spanish.

It's actually a large base of Hispanics that speak Spanish fluently . YouGov estimates that 45 of the 52 million Hispanics in the United States (86.5%) speak Spanish as a first or second language. And, according to the Nielsen Mobile Hispanic Insights, Hispanics are 28 percent more likely to own a smartphone than non-Hispanics. Hispanics over-index on mobile activity, especially when it comes to time spent on mobile apps.

To quantify the gap between Hispanic engagement and brand support for Spanish-language apps, we researched over 1,300 iOS apps from the top 50 of ClickZ's top 100 most valuable brands report. We analyzed several variables, including the platform (iPhone, iPad or Universal) and listed languages. We manually downloaded every mobile app offered by ClickZ's top 50 brands, to verify which offered a Spanish translation.

Although we suspected that U.S. Spanish speakers are underserved, we were still surprised by our findings. Of the 1,311 of ClickZ's top 50 brands' mobile apps surveyed, only 369 (28 percent) were translated into Spanish.

We found a clustering effect around industries. For example, automotive skewed far below average, with BMW, Toyota and Honda offering less than 10 percent of their mobile apps in Spanish. Even more unexpected, some of the most well known and common household names such as McDonald's, Pepsi, Budweiser, Kraft, Gillette and Visa offer no Spanish translations for any of their apps. McDonald's did translate its app into French right before adding Canadian support (Canadian federal laws require food labels to be bilingual).

A few top-50 brands are excelling. Canon is translating every app not only into Spanish, but at least five other languages as well. SAP and Samsung translated 71 percent (67 of 95) and 64 percent (14 of 22) of their apps, respectively. Google offers at least 20 different language translations, including Spanish, for 68 percent (19 of 28) of its iOS apps. Some Google apps not yet translated include: Schemer, Google Catalogs, Google Fiber and Google Offers for Business and (most curiously) Google Voice.

These brands set the bar for trying to excel in the mobile space by engaging users in their native language. By translating their apps, they create a more profound and engaging experience that builds brand loyalty.

Joseph Farrell is executive vice president of operations at BiTE interactive.

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