It has taken a while, but the automotive industry is starting to target the Hispanic on-line buying market. Hispanics comprise 12.5% of the U.S. population making it the second-largest minority group in the country.

A study conducted by the Roslow Research Group for Autobytel, Inc., shows 37% of the Hispanic population have used the Internet when shopping for a vehicle. That number, however, will increase to about 75% according to the study.

As a result of the study, Autobytel recently announced it has begun a dialogue with the burgeoning Hispanic Internet population to determine what website resources best meet their needs. Hispanic visitors to the Autobytel website will be invited to complete a special online survey, and the company will immediately provide purchasing instructions in Spanish, and e-mail and offline customer assistance in Spanish.

"Over 70 percent of Hispanic Internet users polled in this study said they plan to use the web in their car purchasing process and 84 percent would be more likely to do their automotive shopping and research online if they could do so in Spanish,'' said Mark Lorimer, President and CEO of Autobytel Inc. ``This is why we feel it is so important to not only provide opportunities on our site for Hispanic Internet users to start their online automotive experience in Spanish, but also to survey those users to find out what further services and resources would be of most interest to them."

Toyota Motor Co. also is getting into the game launching a Spanish-language version of its popular toyota.com Web site, www.toyota.com/espanol/. The new site will further enhance Toyota's strong relationship with the Hispanic community and promote communication with this key consumer audience.

"Toyota understands that this is the fastest growing market segment," says Steve Sturm, TMS vice president of marketing. "We are constantly striving to improve the consumer experience, so this tool offers us yet another way to help one of our target markets make purchasing decisions."

"There is a preference out there among certain Latinos to obtain information in Spanish because they connect with the language on an emotional level," says Nancy Pendas-Smith, President of Conill Advertising, Toyota's Hispanic agency of record. "In fact, market research has shown that Spanish-language advertisements are five times more persuasive than English-language ads."

Toyota already uses Hispanic print and broadcast mediums to deliver Spanish-language advertisements and commercials, but the new Web site will allow Toyota an opportunity to reach the ever-growing online population, says Ms.Pendas-Smith.

The site features three primary areas:

  1. New Models, Detailed product coverage for 16 models with a link out to the Prius site.
  2. Toyota Certified Used Vehicles
  3. About Toyota, The latest corporate news, coverage of Toyota operations and environmental issues as well as general background information on Toyota.

Additionally, the site offers users the opportunity to link to Toyota English sites for Dealer Locator, motorsports, employment opportunities and anarea where visitors can build their own model.

During its first three months, toyota.com/espanol will feature a launch promotion on the all-new 2002 Camry. Later, the site will shift its marketing focus towards the all-new Matrix; and offer additional services currently available through Toyota.com.

Besides updating product information, Toyota also plans to make continuous improvements to the site, keeping up with the latest technology and expanding content designed for Latino consumers.