The Moderating Role of Bilingualism


Since Spanish-language television began its rise, its competitive battle against the well-established English-language networks for a larger share of advertising revenue has been primarily waged over the bilinguals, fastest-growing segment of the Hispanic population.

The growth of the U.S. Hispanic population and its purchasing power over the years is turning into a slippery slope as it continues to be monitored closely by corporate interests anxious to gain market share and brand loyalty of this important ethnic segment. However, will Hispanic and non-Hispanic consumers respond differently to language used in advertising?

A study focused on the historically dominant mass medium of television and has explored whether acculturation theory and its sub-dimensions account for consumers’ attitudes toward Spanish and English language television commercials.

The results found that ethnic identity as an acculturation sub-dimension did not predict consumers’ attitudes toward language in television commercials. However, language use and preference as an acculturation sub-dimension did predict consumers’ positive and favorable attitudes toward Spanish language television commercials. The moderating role of bilingualism, however, was not found to be statistically significant. The empirical results imply that, contradictory to what advertisers may speculate, ethnic identity as a segmentation variable may not predict how consumers will respond to television commercials.