5 Key Reasons US Businesses Need to Consider Spanish Translation

Any brand looking to expand in the US needs to consider investing in Spanish translation services. The US Hispanic population is huge, growing, and spending a lot of money.  In this post I’ll share statistics on the US Hispanic market, the top five reasons to translate for that market, and then share some tactics around it. 


The statistics for Hispanics in the US


There are 62.1 million Hispanics in the US. The Hispanic population has grown significantly in the last decade, from 50.5 million in 2010 to 62.1 million in 2020. Hispanics represent 19% of the US population.  


A record 33.2 million Hispanics in the U.S. speak English proficiently, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

This means that nearly 29 million Hispanics do not speak English.


Yet they are consumers in all the industries you can think of: health care, automotive, retail, social services, financial services and products, on and on. 

They have 1.7 trillion in spending power.  


Enough evidence? 


Catering to the US Hispanic population and engaging them with your brand means you need to break down the language barriers.  Spanish translation, then, should be at the heart of your marketing strategy. 


US businesses will benefit in five ways by translating into Spanish for this market. 


1.    Wider market reach


Any company that wants to be successful in the US marketplace (or anywhere) must make sure their prospective customers can understand their website, marketing content, product descriptions and reviews, and customer support materials. It’s well known that people prefer to buy and access product support when it is in their own language (40% according to CSA research). 


2.    Better brand engagement through cultural appropriateness


There are cultural differences between Hispanics and non-Hispanics. In fact, there are significant differences among all world cultures – beliefs, values, habits and perceptions are not the same and those things affect the way we all live, manage relationships, work and buy. (That is in no way a complete list of cultural influences).  Cultural intelligence is required in order to adapt your approach to sales and marketing for specific audiences.  


While a marketing approach using cultural intelligence and sensitivity can help people connect with your brand, the opposite is also true: content that is not culturally appropriate can turn someone away from your brand by not connecting with them (at best) or offending them (at worst).  There are many examples of bad translations that were offensive.


Classic example: 


The ad agency for the California Milk Processor Board got the “Got Milk” campaign horribly wrong.  “Got Milk?” was translated in Spanish to the equivalent of “Are you lactating?” In addition, the idea of a Latina mother running out of milk is offensive, not funny. The “Got Milk?” campaign was not marketed to mothers and grandmothers, the milk buyers in Latino 


3.    Competitive edge


Providing content in their own language helps you to build trust with your customers, which leads them to purchasing.  If your competitors are not translating their content for US Hispanics, then you have a huge advantage over them if you decide to do so. 


4.    Increase in sales


There’s a huge ROI from translation.  CSA has published a lot of research that cements the understanding that translation improves revenue


  • Businesses that started localizing were 1.5 times more likely to report a total revenue increase
  • Companies that invested in translation in order to gain an advantage over their competitors were 2.04 times more likely to see an increase in profits
  • Businesses that localized their content were 2.5 times more likely to experience year-on-year profit growth, and 1.8 times more likely to experience revenue growth.


If you need more info to convince stakeholders to invest in translation, check out this article


 5.    Improved inclusivity


In a world that focuses (necessarily) more and more on inclusivity and diversity, providing content in different languages is just the right thing to do.  It develops feelings of belonging, citizenship, increases productivity, and improves the quality of life for the entire population. 


Translation versus Transcreation


You can choose between 3 approaches to providing Spanish content to your Spanish-speaking customers: 


  • Translation is often thought of as a one-to-one exchange from one language to another. It’s often a literal transfer of meaning. It works best for technical texts, user guides, FAQs, online help, and other straightforward content, generic content. It does not work well for creative content such as taglines. 
  • Transcreation, on the other hand, is a creative adaptation process from one language (culture) to the next (culture) where the cultural knowledge of your translator comes into play. Imagery, cultural references, jokes, and idioms all need to change. A phrase in one language, such as ‘take it with a grain of salt’, might not have an equivalent in another language. Also, in North America, we use a lot of baseball phrases like ‘touch base’, and other cultures may not care about baseball or understand the references.  
  • You also need to know about native or in-country copywriting. You should consider this when the content needs to be completely local, or if the transcreation process is more work than just starting over and creating something very specific to your target market. 


As a note, localization is a term you will hear that includes the more technical aspects of adapting content and product for a new market: it is translation PLUS software or website engineering, testing, etc.  


Bonus: you will access the worldwide Spanish market


There are 480 million people native Spanish speakers worldwide, and Spanish is currently ranked as the second most spoken language in the world. There are 


One main reason behind such a high number of Spanish speakers in the world is that it is used as the (or an) official language in more than 20 countries. They are Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico (independent territory).  Mexico, by far, has the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world with more than 121 million speakers, followed by Colombia and Argentina with 46 million and 41 million respectively.


The dialect matters


When localizing for the US market you need to choose Latin American Spanish. First, let’s dispel the myth that ‘Spanish is Spanish’.  Universal Spanish is a form of Spanish that companies may use in their content that is appealing to all and offensive to none. No one actually speaks it.  The problem is that readers perceive it as generic.  Better to translate content into the dialect that your specific Spanish-speaking market speaks.  


Now that you understand the volume of Spanish speakers in the US Market and their purchasing power, you can start planning for localization. If you’d like to chat about how to approach this, please feel free to connect with me here


Another reference: Check out this blog post on how to market to Hispanic customers

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