Metris To Bolster Its Hispanic Marketing Effort

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Metris Cos. Inc., St. Louis Park, MN, is planning to beef up its credit card marketing efforts to Hispanics this year with several new programs.

In addition to last month's agreement to acquire the credit card program from Banco Popular, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Metris will market a Prodigy MasterCard to users of Prodigy's Spanish-language Internet service. It will also market additional Spanish-language credit card enhancement programs to some of Metris' current customers.

Metris also plans to roll out a Spanish-language version of its Direct Merchants bankcard.

"When you look at the market potential, [Hispanic consumers] are the strongest growth opportunity for the card category," said Patrick Fox, president at Metris' Direct Merchants Credit Card Bank subsidiary and senior vice president for business development at Metris.

Metris launched its first Hispanic marketing initiative earlier this year when it began marketing a co-branded MasterCard with La Curacao, a West Coast retailer specializing in Hispanic consumers.

Metris began marketing a Spanish-language version of its Account Protection Plus credit card enhancement program to La Curacao customers.

Although Fox declined to provide details about the effectiveness of the La Curacao marketing efforts, he said the company was "pleased with the results" and noted that Metris planned to offer additional credit card enhancement products to those customers.

Metris, the former Fingerhut subsidiary, specializes in the direct marketing of credit cards and credit card products to moderate-income consumers.

In the La Curacao effort, Metris has primarily been marketing the product in stores and through direct mail.

Although Hispanic consumers are less likely to have Internet access than the general population, Fox was confident that Hispanics were coming online at a rapid pace.

In the Banco Popular agreement, Direct Merchants agreed to take over 283,000 accounts from the bank. The accounts have about $180 million in receivables.

In addition, Direct Merchants also acquired the Banco Popular call center in Orlando, FL, and plans to retain the center's 130 employees.

The center will augment the two Spanish-language call centers Metris operates in Tulsa, OK, and Scottsdale, AZ.

Fox said Direct Merchants will experiment with different marketing media as it attempts to expand the Banco Popular cardholder base and offer additional credit card products to current Banco Popular customers. He noted that Banco Popular uses direct response TV ads on Spanish-language stations to market the cards. Direct Merchants will probably continue that practice.

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