Puerto Ricans lead Hispanics in reading direct mail

Three-fourths of adults of Puerto Rican heritage read direct mail, according to the Vertis Customer Focus 2007: Opiniones survey released this month.

This matches the 75 percent of total adults who read direct mail and surpasses the 71 percent among Hispanics overall, said Scott Marden, director of marketing research at Vertis Communications.

“Consumers of Puerto Rican origin … showed the highest percentage of Hispanic adults reading direct mail, and they also had the highest propensity of Hispanic adults speaking English in the home,” he said. “The reason that Hispanics with a Puerto Rican heritage are more likely to read direct mail is because of their propensity for English, and they are obviously getting those direct mail pieces in English.”

This means “you really need to consider a bilingual message for Hispanic households that are less likely to speak English,” he said.

Vertis Communications, Baltimore, is a targeted advertising, media and marketing services company. The random-dialing survey of 500 Spanish-speaking and 500 English-speaking Hispanic adults was commissioned by Vertis and conducted in August and September by Marshall Marketing and Communications Inc., Pittsburgh. It measured consumer behavior, demographics, media use and attitudes.

The survey also found that 73 percent of U.S. Hispanic adults of Mexican heritage read direct mail, as do 69 percent of Hispanic adults of Spanish origin and 62 percent of Hispanic adults of other origins. Other areas include consumers mainly from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and El Salvador.

Yet Hispanic adults respond to direct mail, especially those who speak Spanish in the home.

Only 58 percent of Hispanic adults who speak Spanish in the home read direct mail, Mr. Marden said. But of those, 70 percent responded to direct mail advertising, the survey found. Specifically, 32 percent responded to a sender’s Web site, 29 percent visited the nearest location, 17 percent called an 800 number on the mailing and 9 percent replied via e-mail.

“This shows that once you capture the attention of Hispanic adults, they are a great responder to direct mail,” he said. “And I think the best way to get their attention is by giving them their message in a language they can understand.”

As for those speaking English in the home, 60 percent responded to direct mail advertising: 30 percent visited a sender’s Web site, 26 percent visited the nearest location, 12 percent called an 800 number and 7 percent replied via e-mail.

Respondents also were asked to name the last product or service they bought from an ad in a billing statement envelope, such as a credit card statement or utility bill. Mr. Marden said the top items Hispanic adults of Puerto Rican heritage recalled buying were cell phones, clothing/shoes, credit card services and party supplies.

The survey also examined follow-up communication, finding that 58 percent of Hispanic adults from Spain — the highest percentage — said that the phone was an acceptable form of follow-up to them when they expressed interest in a company’s product.

“This group is slightly older and definitely acculturated in the United States and have a propensity to speak English,” Mr. Marden said. “That’s probably why the phone is a good form of follow-up communication for them.”

Direct mail as a follow-up tool drew 48 percent acceptance each from those of Puerto Rican and Mexican heritage but only 42 percent for those from Spain. However, e-mail, either personalized or general, got 56 percent from Hispanic adults from Spain but only 39 percent from those of Puerto Rican heritage and 40 percent from Mexican heritage. A personal visit from a company got the most acceptance among Hispanic adults from those of Puerto Rican heritage, at 24 percent.

“When using e-mail and targeting Hispanics, you really have to think about the segment you want to reach,” Mr. Marden said. “You certainly want to think about the segment you want to reach.”

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