Is multicultural marketing the answer for an adverse market?

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How is the multicultural market being affected by this adverse economy?  Is this a good time to enter the multicultural market or are the risks greater right now?  What can you do to raise your response level?  These are all good, challenging questions but actually easy to answer.

The multicultural markets are not immune to what is going on locally, nationally and globally.  In fact, if you look at the stock markets, some of the biggest hits have occurred in Latin American countries.  While many market sectors are down 30% to 35%, Latin American stocks have fallen 50% to 70%. But there is a big difference between investing in Dominican Republican stocks and focusing marketing efforts on reaching Latinos here in the states.

An investment in direct marketing to Spanish-speaking Americans and to English-speaking Hispanics still remains a smart move and a logical strategy for growth.  The reasons are simple:

First, these markets continue to grow at a pace that exceeds virtually all others which gives you the opportunity to tap into a huge market with a great appetite.

Second, Hispanics receive a fraction of the mail that is stuffed into the Anglo market mailbox.  Your mail has a very better chance of being seen and read and responded to than being lost in all of the general market clutter. 

Third, Hispanic household income has been stable over the last six months.  This is often attributed to the fact that typical Hispanic households are younger and larger than the general market and therefore have more members contributing to the household income.

Fourth, young Hispanic families feel tremendous pressure to assimilate into mainstream culture.  They become avid consumers with broad interests ranging from clothing and music to health products and electronics.

It is very important to remember that cultural values drive relationships with Hispanics- particularly in fundraising but also in direct marketing overall.  If you are looking to raise response levels, remember that these cultural values, particularly family values, are transcendent.  They go with the families wherever they go. For example, Latinos will often respond more strongly to an emotional story rather than cold statistics.

It is still generally accepted that you will receive the greatest response by mailing in Spanish  to households that have responded to Spanish-language offers. That's the single best way to know for certain that the household speaks Spanish and is direct mail responsive. Be careful of processes that profess to identify Spanish speakers on your database by surname overlay.  Just because a name sounds or looks Spanish doesn't make it a Spanish speaker.

One last point — don't forget about Puerto Rico. There are many marketers who have discovered that mailing to Hispanics is extremely profitable and easy and they are successfully growing the segment.  But only a small percentage of these savvy marketers take advantage of Puerto Rico — a large, 4 million-strong homogenous group that responds better than the general market but not quite as well as Spanish language lists.  When mailing Puerto Rico you need a service bureau familiar with the urbanization codes.  Many residents use PO boxes.

With more than 45 million Hispanics in the United States, direct mail to Hispanics has to be one of the smartest marketing decisions you can make.  Help is available to you in the form of advertising agencies, multicultural marketing organizations and of course multicultural list marketers who know the business inside and out.

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