Census May Boost Hispanic Marketing

Though the number of Hispanic consumers in the United States has skyrocketed in the past 10 years, the number of Hispanic lists and databases has grown at a more moderate rate.

Last week, the Census Bureau said that Hispanics had surpassed blacks as the country's largest minority group. Based on estimates from July 1, 2001, the Hispanic population reached 37 million while blacks numbered 36.2 million. Meanwhile, the non-Hispanic white population was 196 million.

Though the shift had been forecast for some time, at least one list professional expects that the census figures will encourage more marketers to look at the Hispanic market.

“Now that you have the census saying that Hispanics are the largest minority group, that brings a lot of clout that might not have been there before,” said Mauricio Herrera, vice president of retail sales at Hugo Dunhill Mailing Lists, New York. Herrera also serves as chairman for the Direct Marketing Association's Directo Council for Hispanic Marketing and has been involved in Hispanic marketing for 10 years.

Of course, a mailer's ability to reach any group of consumers depends on the availability of lists for that market. Another list professional who has specialized in the Hispanic market for more than 15 years said the quantity and quality of the lists had improved.

“A lot of the lists were surname-generated or exclusively from Spanish direct marketers that do not market in English at all, as opposed to marketers primarily from the English-language market,” said Rick Blume, vice president of multicultural marketing at 21st Century Marketing, Farmingdale, NY.

Blume cited Reader's Digest Selecciones, People en Espanol, BMG and Columbia House as U.S. marketers that successfully built lists of Hispanics that are available for rental.

Among the Hispanic compiled database files on the market are 21st Century's Hispanos Americanos file with 13.5 million names; Direct Media's Lifefiles Hispanics, 10 million; and American List Counsel's Hispanic Mail-Order Buyers, 2 million.

In addition, Spanish-language-generated e-mail lists have started to pop up from Spanish-language Web sites, Blume said.

Language is a key factor when considering marketing to Hispanics.

“The list pool is not growing very quickly as far as availability of Spanish-language lists, but there are more and more Hispanic databases and lists coming out all the time,” said Chris Ragusa, president of Estee Marketing Group Inc., New Rochelle, NY. “You can definitely reach people who prefer the Spanish language, but the universe of names is much smaller.”

Ragusa estimated the available Spanish-language universe at 5 million to 6 million names but said not all of those names are response-based and that some may not even be recent.

Though she is discouraged that more Spanish-language lists are not being released, Ragusa said her mailers are mailing more to the Hispanic market this year. She also notices new mailers entering the market.

Since the census shows 37 million Hispanics nationwide and the largest Hispanic database represents only around 10 million, Herrera said, a lot of data are missing. Still, even if the data were available, many marketers are daunted by the task of producing a mail piece in Spanish.

“You cannot just translate a mail piece word for word,” he said. “You need to tailor it to the Spanish-speaking audience.”

Marketers having the most success in the Hispanic market are mailing in Spanish, Blume said.

Though marketers must go through an educational process before they can mail successfully into the Hispanic market, Herrera expects the census figures will spark serious interest.

“I think it's been a long overdue process,” he said. “It's a viable market that has certainly been overlooked to one degree or another.”

The DMA hosts its 10th Annual Directo Days Conference at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York on March 3-4. The conference, “Beyond the Media Hype: Effectively Implementing and Executing Strategies for the Hispanic Market,” will cover topics for beginners and more advanced marketers.

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