InternetMercado.com Plans Online Version of Distribution Program

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To help marketers reach the ever-growing Hispanic market more effectively, InternetMercado.com is expected to announce today plans for an online version to its door-to-door distribution program.


InternetMercado, Los Angeles, has scheduled the debut of LaBolsita.com for April 4. The Web site will feature a weekly e-mail newsletter with a bilingual interface that will offer online coupons, specials and promotions.


Formerly JSA Publishing, InternetMercado helps companies market to Hispanics in cities with large Hispanic populations, such as Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, through a variety of offline programs. Using local newspaper distribution teams, the company hangs little yellow bags filled with clients' marketing materials -- including coupons and product samplers -- on consumers' doorknobs.


InternetMercado pays a premium to have the little yellow -- La Bolsita -- bags delivered straight to the doorknob, said Marcelino Miyares, president of InternetMercado. The door-to-door distribution program reaches 3 million households in 20 high-population Hispanic markets, he said.


"We found over time that advertisers who were looking to reach the Hispanic market were interested in having us distribute their circulars and product samples," Miyares said. "It allows them to reach the niche market at a much more cost-effective expense."


For most of the markets, InternetMercado delivers the polybags on key Hispanic dates, such as independence days or holidays, Miyares said. The company delivers La Bolsita every week in certain markets, he said.


AT&T, Basking Ridge, NJ, placed an insert in La Bolsita in March last year to promote its 10-10-345 service, said Kit Haines, marketing communications director at AT&T. The polybag went to 1 million people in the Los Angeles area, she said.


AT&T targeted the Hispanic market because of its large international market base and the prospect of the market making a lot of international calls, Haines said.


"We've always been proponents of both in-language and in-culture messaging and advertising," she said. "InternetMercado understands how to do that."


InternetMercado clients and many other companies in the United States are trying to market to Hispanics because the sector is growing and is increasing its buying power. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are nearly 40 million Hispanics in the United States, and the growth rate is expected to increase 25 percent over the next 10 years.


Additionally, Hispanics accounted for 5.9 percent of all buying power in the United States, up from 5 percent in 1990, according to a study by the University of Georgia.


Sergio Bendixen, president of Hispanic Trends, Coral Gables, FL, a provider of research and information on the Hispanic market, said marketers should reach out to Hispanics but with targeted marketing strategies. For example, companies must factor in the emergence of the immigrant population and the importance of using Spanish-language communications, he said.


And with the Hispanic sector from South America and Central America, Bendixen said, marketers also must advertise to them on an emotional level.


"When you're talking about Hispanics, especially immigrants that grew up in South America, in terms of advertising and in contrast to the general market, an emotional connection and appeal [are] much more important than one that only lays out the facts," he said.


With that particular market, marketers should consider using advertising in Spanish, Bendixen said.


By contrast, Bendixen said marketers looking to reach Hispanics online should market in English instead. Because most Hispanics who use the Internet are second-generation, they prefer to use it in English, he said.


"While the Hispanic immigrant population is increasing, it doesn't make sense to market to them online because they're not there yet," he said.


Miyares said InternetMercado is moving online to allow marketers to reach U.S. Hispanics who are online. The company, which rented lists from undisclosed Internet services and technology companies, will initially send the permission-based e-mails to 100,000 people.


InternetMercado plans to expand that list to 500,000 within 18 months, he said.


"We wanted to emphasize the future of the business, to say we're moving toward integrating online and offline direct response programs," Miyares said. "We hope to do for coupons online what DVD did for video and be able to deliver coupons, but also be able to deliver information about the company and offer links back to the company."
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