Network Draws Hispanics to Online Coupons

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U.S. Hispanics are responding to online coupon offers on the Cupones y Muestras network, where the average visitor logs on three times a week for offers from packaged goods brands like Hershey, Hanes and Lactaid.


Only six months after its debut, 13 percent of the Hispanic online network's visitors have printed a coupon on each visit. Ten percent of the printed coupons are redeemed at retail stores.


"It's clear the U.S. Hispanics are a young, brand-loyal, promotionally underserved population which is growing rapidly and is ripe for product trial through both coupons and samples," said Jaimie Korody, vice president of marketing at eclip.com, the Santa Monica, CA, owner of the network.


The coupons can be downloaded from cuponesymuestras.com, cuponesymuestras.com/terra and cuponesymuestras.com/todobebe. The company, whose Web site name translates to coupons and samples, partnered with Hispanic online service Terra.com and Todo Bebe, a site for expecting and new Hispanic parents. The coupons are served through their sites as well.


Two new firms joining later this spring, one a leading Hispanic portal and the other a telecom firm, will double cuponesymuestras.com's reach. Eclip.com will create microsites on cuponesymuestras.com for these companies, which, in turn, also will feature the coupons in their pages.


Consumers visit these sites and click on a brand name or logo. A pop-up window or full page loads with the offer. The user then completes a demographic profile with name and address, and prints out the coupon. A bar code unique to the consumer tracks redemption at stores, processed through a clearinghouse.


Besides printable coupons, marketers can tailor their programs to offer home-mailed samples or coupons. Either way, samples are delivered at home within 15 days. A follow-up e-mail is sent shortly after, inviting consumer comments as an extension of the dialogue.


According to eclip.com metrics for Cupones y Muestras, 13 percent of visitors order coupons for babies and children, 11 percent for food and 7 percent for pet items. Another 5 percent preferred coupons for non-food and drug items.


Brands displaying coupons on these sites include Target Optical, Hebrew National, Peter Pan, Terra Chips, Sweet 'n' Low, Coca-Cola, Gerber and Hormel Foods.


These brands are aware of the boom in the Hispanic market. That ethnic group is the fastest-growing demographic segment in the United States, with last year's population of 35.3 million expected to double by 2020. Meanwhile, Hispanics' recorded buying power of $443 billion last year is projected to reach $940 billion in 2010.


Age plays a role, too. The median age of Hispanics is 24, versus 34 for the general public. Their households are larger as well: 31 percent of Hispanic households average four to five members compared with two to three members for the general population.


What most captivates marketers, however, are the issues of brand loyalty and buying power. Research by Quirk's Marketing Research Review shows that six of the main consumer packaged goods categories are dominated by brands that have a 40 percent-plus share in the Hispanic market.


Similarly, 55 percent of surveyed Hispanics believe brand names are better than store labels, according to the Hispanic Market Primer.


With all that data, it is surprising that Hispanics have not been actively courted with coupons, even offline. Offline promotional targeting to Hispanics is scant, and the little that is done centers around Hispanic-themed live events on a regional level.


Online, Hispanics show an activity preference for sports, entertainment and news. Eclip.com, through Cupones y Muestras and its partners, aims to establish coupons and sampling as another primary activity for this group.


Ricky Arriola, president of Inktel Direct, a Miami Lakes, FL, provider of outsourced services like call centers, database management and fulfillment, said that first- or second-generation Hispanics like to take advantage of the benefits of coupons and rebate programs.


They are familiar with these promotions from their native lands, where coupons or rebates typically are redeemed at bodegas and retail spots, he said.


"Hispanics are slightly less familiar with mailing and online redemption of coupons because that is not always the way business is conducted back home," Arriola said. "Therefore, the question for marketers usually becomes whether or not they should offer point-of-purchase or another form of redemption.


"In the Hispanic market," he said, "coupons are usually redeemed in order to obtain additional merchandise or discounts rather than as a part of a point-accumulation program, such as a rewards program."


To really attract Hispanics, marketers must present their message in Spanish and at sites that speak with them culturally. And like the general market, the value proposition to time spent clearly must be established.


"We know with certainty that Hispanic consumers have very limited opportunities to both try new products and save on existing brands," Korody said. "And even acculturated second-generation-plus Hispanics have an expectation to receive and will respond more enthusiastically to advertising that is targeted to them contextually."


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