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Feature: Tips on Hispanic DRTV

A statistical analysis by multicultural consultancy Santiago Solutions Group of nearly 200 top U.S. advertisers’ financial performance over five years found a startling fact. Companies allocating the highest percentage of resources to the Hispanic market generated return on shareholder equity four times higher than all the other publicly traded companies in the study. This was especially true for the consumer goods and retailing sectors so important to the direct response television industry.

Nadia Ashrafian, CEO of U.S. Hispanic DRTV advertising agency Capital Media Inc., Mission Viejo, CA, knows the value of this audience to marketers. Here’s the Q&A, with all the tips necessary to help with Hispanic customer acquisition over DRTV.

What are some of the key cultural characteristics of the Hispanic consumer that advertisers need to know?

Nadia Ashrafian: The most important thing is to talk to them in a language they understand. Treat them with respect, being patient so it works and give them original production that is appropriate for this culture and market. Hispanics don’t buy something just because there is a famous person behind a product. They buy it because of clear product demonstration and testimonials that they can identify with.

They are an extremely loyal clientele that uses TV, radio and print for information and acculturation. Use this opportunity to gain them as clients for many years to come by offering them fantastic products and services to better their quality of life.

Remember that the US Hispanic market is 70 percent Mexican. It is important to reach them, unless you are doing local marketing only in Miami or New York. Otherwise try to go with a neutral accent as well as Mexican testimonials, not Cuban, not Argentine not Puerto Rican.

Make the product appeal to the family. Hispanics are extremely family- oriented.

What particular challenges do DRTV advertisers face when creating or adapting campaigns for the Hispanic market?

The biggest mistake is that marketers are unaware of the U.S. Hispanic market’s true potential, how much it can mean to their bottom line. The U.S. Hispanic market means 20 percent to 25 percent of your current business. If you are interested then you must figure out the U.S. Hispanic market now, because it will affect everything you do for a very long time.

If you’re planning on going to retail, don’t underestimate the power of the U.S. Hispanic market, who are the shoppers of Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens and Sears. That’s right – the majority of shoppers in these stores are U.S. Hispanic consumers. If you don’t believe me, just visit a store or ask the retailers. Tell them that you are considering U.S. Hispanic advertising and see their reaction as to the positioning of your product with them. Retail recognizes the power of U.S. Hispanics since their sales and growth are so dependent on this market. That’s why they do so much advertising in the U.S. Hispanic market.

The next mistake DRTV marketers make is comparing U.S. Hispanic DRTV with English-language DRTV. It should be a new business model. Everything can be different, from the offer to the pitch. What matters is the bottom line: Are you making money? Is it paying out based on your expectation? You can’t fit it into your existing box. You should create a new box with new matrix.

It won’t work to just translate an English-language campaign into Spanish?

No, it would not. The script must be rewritten. One must transcreate instead of translate. Remember that it takes longer to say something in Spanish and some things do not translate over and must be recreated for the same meaning. That holds true for everything: print, radio, TV, the Internet, call center script and customer service.

If you’re adamant about using your existing show, be sure you use the best quality in your adaptation. It should be like a Hollywood movie in Spanish. Keep in mind [that] the U.S. Hispanic consumer is very upscale in thinking and expectations. The U.S. Hispanic consumer is the same as the [general] American consumer only in a different language. It is very important to provide original testimonials they can identify with and show the product in their everyday life situations.

So I’ve managed to adapt my DRTV campaign to the Hispanic market. Now what happens on the back end? What about media?

Similarly, you need a call center and fulfillment. Your call center must be able to answer calls in Spanish. You’re not looking for a bilingual call center. You’re looking for a great sales-oriented, Spanish-speaking call center. For the most part, people are more comfortable selling in one language or another. If they are great salespeople in English, they will not be so great in Spanish, even if they speak both languages. You should only care if they speak Spanish. You should prepare for the calls to take longer, because building a rapport is important, as well as the fact that it takes longer to say the same thing in Spanish. However the media cost is less expensive per thousand eyeballs. So based on the new matrix for your business, it should pay out just as well with new standards such as more upsells.

Fulfillment stays the same, however. If your fulfillment company does not have Spanish customer service, you can use the call center also for customer service calls. If you have not converted all of your product elements to Spanish, be sure to insert the box with a welcoming letter in Spanish and, once you want to role out, start creating your literature in English as well as Spanish. This is very important. Anything in print be sure it is both in English and Spanish, as parents often ask their children to read things and they might not able to read in Spanish.

Most importantly, there are plenty of credit cards to make your campaign work. However, there will be many people also interested in your product and wanting to buy it with cash. Successful marketers in [the] U.S. Hispanic [market] have also figured out solutions for the cash component in order to take their success to the next level.

Are there any market sectors that have been particularly successful with DRTV advertising to the Hispanic market?

The ingestible category has been extremely successful due to the fact of lack of medical insurance in the Hispanic market. They are used to finding self-help products to take care of physical needs. Vitamins in upsell scenarios do better than English [-language sells].

Fitness: The Hispanic consumer is younger and very much influenced by the music industry and new trends, and there is no shame in wanting to look better and losing weight.

Beauty: Physical appearance is very important to Hispanics, which is why they outspend the general market in this category, from shampoo to make-up to clothes.

House-ware products do well, especially if you can show the product cooking Spanish food. Hardware products also do very well.

Basically, if any product has tested well in English it has a leg in Spanish, unless it is completely off the mark like golf products – at least for now.

Is there anything else you want advertisers to know?

There was a time when advertisers would say, “We’ll wait till U.S. Hispanics learn how to speak English.” That time is gone. It’s not that Hispanics don’t speak English. They simply prefer to do business in Spanish. Keep in mind that if U.S. Hispanics were a country of their own it would be the second-largest and the richest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Like any other powerhouse, Hispanics have the right to choose how they want to live their lives. Advertisers who take this population seriously will be the winners.

Reach Ms. Ashrafian at [email protected].

Facts to go …

When more than 1 million immigrants took to the streets last month to protest Congress’ immigration bills, politicians confronted what many direct marketers have already discovered: you don’t want to ignore the Hispanic population in this country. Hispanics currently are 43.5 million-strong, and projected by 2050 to hit 100 million, or 25 percent of the population.

The U.S. Hispanic population is growing four times faster than the population at large and is more youthful (34 percent of Hispanics are younger than 18, compared with 25 percent of the total U.S. population). It is becoming more affluent, with a third of Hispanic households now earning upwards of $50,000 per year. By 2009, aggregate Hispanic disposable income is expected to top $1 trillion, or 9 percent of total U.S. consumer purchasing power.

Sarah Littman

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