The U.S. Hispanic State of Transition

A number of articles related to the U.S Hispanic market were published in the last few weeks. At times they sound contradicting and clearly highlight the transition taking place in this market due to the disruption caused by a new generation of young Hispanics, the shift of media preferences due to the raise of internet audiences and erosion of traditional media.

Illustrating the challenge is the  Wall Street Journal story on Home Depot shuttering its Spanish site while DeWalt is building one. I do not have complete details for either campaign but I imagine the agency/client teams behind both companies did their due diligence, conducted research, looked at secondary information, created a target profile or “persona,” reviewed best ways to communicate with their targets and presented the client with a marketing communications plan for the brand.

There is a wealth of information available for offline strategies that have been extremely successful. After all, Hispanic advertising is a 25 years old industry.  The common denominator among all successful campaigns is marketers with well defined targets and a precise marketing communications strategy.

In the Tecate beer study (above link), the target was Mexican Americans, Spanish dominant, who like boxing. Their effort translated into the number one position in the foreign beer category, and a 6% annual growth in a segment that is flat. In a second stage the marketer is looking at reaching another Hispanic segment: Assimilated Hispanics that are bilingual. I am sure the media mix and strategies will take in consideration this group preference.

Getting back to the online world, most Hispanic advertising agencies have not launched fully integrated online campaigns. They have mostly created Spanish web sites for clients and made digital buys at Spanish language portals. That was fine under a Web 1.0 premise. That period saw the growth of AOL, Yahoo, and display advertising.

In today’s market, a build it and they will come state of mind does not sync with the  online world. In 2009, search accounts for about half of all online advertising. There are about 20 million Hispanics online, the leading Spanish online destination made it to the 55 spot among the top 100 destinations, with 1.6 million unique visitors. Here I invite you to do the math: The U.S. market has about 48 million Hispanics, 20 million of them are online and 1.6 million are at, the leading Spanish language site. That leaves about 18.4 million Hispanics visiting other sites, many of which are English sites.

The same report lists other online media properties with a strong following among Hispanics: Facebook (9), CBS Interactive (12), Viacom (14), New York Times Digital (16), NBC Universal (53, which includes Telemundo), Hearst Digital Media (64) and Gannett (66).  E- Commerce oriented websites have very high rankings, including: eBay (7), Apple (10), Amazon (11) and WalMart (25).

Please be aware that some sites may be popular among Spanish speakers but the bulk of their users and traffic comes from overseas. Using those sites will not deliver the U.S. Hispanic market.

Now back to the basic questions:

Do you know how to effectively reach Hispanics?

Do you have a profile or persona for your target?

Who is it?

Where can you find it?

What kind of media he/she consumes?

What is the context for a marketing communications strategy?

The closer you are to effectively addressing the above points (among others) the closer you will be to effectively reaching your Hispanic targets both online and offline.

As marketers, we sometimes have to connect the dots among isolated but interdependent elements to determine the best course of action. To close, I will share a few points about the Hispanic market that will give you an idea of current trends during this stage of transition:

1) Comment from a colleague close to Google: about 85% of searches by Hispanics were done in English.

2) Hispanic online demographic is expanding more than 50% faster than the overall US online population.

3) 78.2% of students enrolled at the Los Angeles School District are Hispanic (Los Angeles is the #1 Hispanic market).

4) 89% of Hispanic teens were online as of 2004. That number is probably close to 95% in 2009

If you have any questions, please leave a comment.


About Ivan Cevallos

Blogger, entrepreneur, strategist, and digital producer. View all posts by Ivan Cevallos

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