DM News Essential Guide to Lists and Databases: Use the Right Hispanic Lists

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By now, everyone knows of the enormous growth of the U.S. Hispanic market in both population and purchasing power. According to the U.S. Census 2004 report, there are 40 million documented Hispanics in the United States, and that number will more than double over the next 30 years to make up 25 percent of the U.S. population.

To direct marketers looking to tap into this robust market, this means that there will be a continuous, expanding fresh audience for their products and services. DM has established itself as one of the smartest, most cost-effective ways to capitalize on this growing opportunity.

Many believe, and I concur, that the best way to reach Hispanics using direct mail is in Spanish, their native language. Seventy percent to 80 percent of Hispanics speak Spanish at home. The most successful Hispanic DMers - companies like Bookspan, Rodale, People en Espanol, Oblate Missions, Priests of the Sacred Heart and Salesian Missions - all mail in Spanish.

A limited number of Hispanic lists are on the market, but choosing the right ones remains confusing to many Hispanic marketers and their list brokers. Often, inexperienced marketers use the wrong types of Hispanic files or simply mail historically unproductive files.

There are basically two types of Hispanic lists: those that are strictly surname generated and those that claim to be Spanish speaking.

Surname lists match an individual's last name to a Spanish surname table, thus inferring that the individual is Hispanic and may speak Spanish. English-language and bilingual Hispanic marketers use these types of lists successfully.

The second type, Spanish-speaking lists, tend to confuse list brokers and their mailers because they also come in two varieties: those generated from Spanish-language promotions and those that infer the prospect speaks Spanish by applying technology, particularly through a combination of census, geography, first and last name and other proprietary algorithms.

Without question, if you're mailing in Spanish or using a bilingual piece, your best lists will be those generated from Spanish-language promotions. Some well-known Spanish-language-generated lists are People en Espanol, Bookspan's Mosaico, Tabak's and the Editorial Televisa family of magazine lists such as Vanidades, Cosmo en Espanol and TV y Novelas.

Lists generated from Spanish-language offers normally produce the greatest response. But many Spanish-speaking-inferred lists work well to the Spanish-speaking market, especially if you can zero in with demographics - age, income, etc. - and lifestyle interests that have an affinity to your product.

When choosing Hispanic lists for your promotion, ensure you ask the right questions and do your own research. There are several list experts in this market who can help. Everyone in this market wants Hispanic direct marketers to succeed. And they are succeeding in big numbers, which means that we should see many more Spanish-language-generated lists in the near future.

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