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Global Perspective

Cultural Appeal

1 Feb, 2009 By: Bridget McCrea Response

Economic woes hit the U.S Hispanic market, but keep it looking for good values.

The ever-expanding domestic Hispanic market has historically been known as a demographic that was willing to open its wallet to try new products and services. For many years, in fact, this segment was bombarded with products from Latin America, many of them claiming "magic formulas" tailored to match the audience's culture and beliefs. It didn't take long for Hispanic Americans to wise up to the scams, and to become "smarter and wiser in their buying habits," says Fernando Schiantarelli, president at Los Angeles-based Hispanic Pipeline Marketing.

"They are now asking more questions and turning to be much more conservative," says Schiantarelli, who points to the financial crisis as yet another deterrent for Hispanics who would otherwise be testing the waters by purchasing DR products from television, the Internet and retail floors. "In any socioeconomic environment, unemployment affects the weakest first. Spanish-speaking Hispanics have been the first to feel the punch, based on the types of jobs they perform and the immigration status they sustain."

Add up those negative factors, says Schiantarelli, and the end result is "one of the hardest selling seasons on record for DR marketers working in the Hispanic market." But there is a silver lining for companies whose products and services offer true value to the sector: namely, the fact that the Hispanic segment is becoming more receptive to mainstream products that don't necessarily target them as consumers.

Multichannel Maturity Prods Latin America Forward
Multichannel Maturity Prods Latin America Forward

With the economic recession in full swing across the nation, the media environment has also become more "friendly" to marketers looking to tap the Hispanic demographic. "Hispanic media [outlets] are really struggling for ad dollars right now," says Schiantarelli. "If, during the bubble times of economic growth, Hispanic media — compared to the mainstream media — received a discounted price in the cost-per-thousand equation, now circumstances are even worse."

That environment leaves much room for negotiation, says Schiantarelli, who cautions marketers not to "think cheap" when dealing with Univision and other top-notch Hispanic media outlets. "These firms have strict policies to avoid airing ads that are really scams, or that could have a negative impact to their audiences," says Schiantarelli. "But once you pass the pre-approval process — which might take a couple of weeks — Hispanic media is flexible regarding rates."


That's good news for American marketers looking to dip a toe into the growing audience of Hispanic consumers, who, much like the rest of the U.S., will likely become even more frugal this year as the recessionary environment prevails.

"It's no secret that the Hispanic market has been as soft as the general marketplace," says Toni Knight, founder and CEO at WorldLink in Los Angeles, and a member of the Response Editorial Advisory Board. "The soft market that's affected the general marketplace has had impacts on all advertising — be it English or Spanish."

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