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Se Habla Español? The Growing Opportunity of Hispanic Direct Response

The U.S. population of Hispanic consumers wields a formidable combination of fiscal optimism and buying power in excess of $1 trillion—a number expected to increase to nearly $1.5 trillion by 2015, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth. This means that today’s more acculturated Latino demographic accounts for nearly 11% of the nation’s total buying power—a group capable of shaping the nation’s future economic and marketing trajectory.

As such, the Spanish language market is potentially the next big trend in DRTV advertising. Consider some simple facts that indicate why this market is ripe with opportunity:

  • Sales, lead response, and conversion for Hispanic direct response campaigns have been greater than similar English language campaigns for a range of products and services. According to Simmons research, while 11% of U.S. general market consumers will make a purchase via direct response, fully 15% of U.S. Hispanics will do the same.
  • Simmons also reports that Hispanic consumers feel more respected and loyal and have higher product recall when advertised to in Spanish.
  • DRTV among Hispanics has experienced a major rise. More than 1.8 million Hispanic shoppers purchased goods and services via DRTV in 2011.
  • Recognizing these trends, a growing number of network and local Spanish language stations are seeking DRTV spots and catering to advertiser requirements.

Why then is this growing market only “potentially” the next big trend in DRTV? Because many advertisers have not yet determined a way to overcome the obstacles keeping them from launching successful Spanish language DRTV campaigns.

First, there’s the combination of cost and time requirements. Yes, advertisers must direct dollars to Spanish language stations and either modify existing commercials or create new ones in order to address the needs of the Hispanic market—but despite the added effort, the cost is often much lower than most marketers think. Prevailing rates on many Spanish language stations are relatively low, and when created with the Hispanic market in mind, the majority of general market commercials “translate” easily from English to Spanish.

Second, and perhaps more problematic, is that advertisers often fail to understand the Hispanic audience. The misconception still exists that Hispanics prefer to buy in stores rather than through direct response because they prefer to pay in cash or don’t own a computer or smartphone. In fact, 84% of Hispanic consumers have a credit or debit card, 93% own a mobile device, and 89% have Internet access. If anything, this audience is at least as willing to buy via DRTV as other segments of the population. Many of our clients have had great success with Spanish language DRTV spots, including Winn-Dixie, Ultimate Fighting Championship, and others.

Third, many marketers assume they will reach the Spanish language market through traditional buys. While they will no doubt reach some of this coveted market using the same channels they know, what they may not realize is Spanish language stations have changed. The quality of programming is much higher, the number of stations has multiplied, and a significant percentage of viewers are more comfortable making purchases on these channels, rather than English language stations.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, advertisers must understand that the Spanish-speaking population is not only growing rapidly, but is skewed much younger than its English-speaking counterparts. In fact, the average direct response buyer is nearly ten years younger. As a result, DRTV advertisements should be developed with these younger consumers in mind.

For too long direct response advertisers have failed to target this market effectively, both on Spanish language stations as well as in traditional DRTV media. Yet looking at the ongoing growth of the Hispanic market, as well as its spending power and influence, this is a group that cannot be underestimated and should not be ignored.

Reaching out to the U.S. Hispanic market may take a little more effort and a slightly different approach than many DRTV advertisers are accustomed to. But for those that take the time to understand Spanish-speaking market trends and opportunities—and are willing to address the audience with ocho ciento numeros (800 numbers) and other tailored response vehicles—the extra effort will be well worth it.

Steve Miller is SVP of A. Eicoff & Co.

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