Answer the Call from the Global Community

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Small wonder why marketers are ramping up their campaigns targeting the U.S. Hispanic market. Its the fastest growing ethnic cohort in the United States. Published reports suggest that by 2010, consumer spending among the U.S. Hispanic population will exceed $1 trillion. And according to Jeff Humphreys, director of the Selig Center at the Terry College of Business, which conducts minority buying-power studies, this will be more than five times greater than the cohorts 1990 consumer spending level. Clearly, this group of whom prefer to speak rapidly growing.

Humphreys puts his statistic into perspective by maintaining that in 2003, the U.S. Hispanic market was larger than the entire economies of all but 10 countries in the world. By 2010 the market will likely exceed the gross domestic product of Canada, the eighth largest economy in the world. As more organizations target this growing U.S. market, it stands to reason that customer support efforts for this group will increase. Some companies have responded by offloading support to outsourcers in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and other locations that provide Spanish-speaking and bilingual agents. This is certainly a viable cost-cutting alternative to hiring, training, and managing bilingual agents internally, but some progressive companies are looking to cut costs even further by investing in speech translation services for their speech-enabled IVRs.

Its important to note, though, that the U.S. Hispanic market cannot be categorized and treated as one monolithic cohort. Demographic research firm Yankelovich and others have uncovered several subcategories within this emerging market that can reveal even more insight into their behaviors, attitudes, and cultural preferences. Depending on the research firm, these subcategories are often defined by a variety of factors such as English fluency, the preferred language of the household, country of origin, and other ties to culture such as food, music, and clothes. This information will come in handy
when communicating with members of these various subcategories. Many corporate strategists get this and are starting to serve these subcategories better than ever. The reality, though, is that speech translation is a global issue, with tremendous upside potential. Particularly interesting, is that according to our cover story The Call Heard Round the World, by Paul Korzeniowski, 14 of the top 25 Web sites based in the United States were visited more by users outside the country than in it. This clearly indicates that there is a tremendous opportunity to serve the global community in more than just one language.

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