NEW YORK — Double is better than nothing.

That’s the tale of spending on ads aimed at Hispanic consumers, which has more than doubled in the past five years, to reach $1.89 billion in 2002 from $692 million in 1999, according to the Magazine Publishers of America’s new Hispanic/Latino Market Profile.

At first blush, that 173 percent run up in ad spending appears explosive. In reality, it lags far behind the dollars flowing into the economy as a result of the group’s rate of population increase and its propensity to spend more than the average American on apparel — 0.86 percent of median household income in the 12 months ended in April 2002, compared with 0.76 percent of all American women, according to Mediamark Research, one of the MPA’s sources. For example, the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, one of more than 20 sources cited in the MPA market profile, advises apparel stores to dedicate 16 percent of their marketing budgets to targeting Hispanics, or four times spending levels that now average 4 percent. As for population dynamics, Hispanics represented half of all new consumers emerging between 2000 and 2001, as the group grew at a rate of 1.7 million people annually.

“Often people look for ad spending [increases] to be commensurate with population growth,” said Ellen Oppenheim, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at the MPA. More targeted ad dollars are likely to start flowing, she projected, because of “Hispanics’ growing influence on mainstream culture and the group’s younger-than-average age.” However, Oppenheim noted, one countervailing influence on Hispanic ads has been the tricky prospect of striking an effective balance between using English- and Spanish-language media.

The MPA found 63 percent of Hispanics read English-language magazines and 53 percent read Spanish-language titles, indicating the print medium poses an effective, if complex, means by which to reach them. Nearly 75 percent of adult Hispanics are reading magazines, with the average reader consuming about nine issues a month, the same rate as the nine issues read monthly by 85 percent of Americans overall. As Hispanic readers are seven years younger, on average, than the broader group, though, their income has yet to peak and their spending priorities vary from those in more mature markets, including a propensity to spend a greater share of wallet on apparel, personal care and children.Data from Simmons Market Research, Mediamark Research, Teenage Research Unlimited, Telenacion and the U.S. Census Bureau, cited in the MPA profile, further shows:

  • The average age of adult Hispanic magazine readers is 38, versus 45 among all American magazine readers.

  • Mean annual household income of Hispanic readers is $52,785 against $73,938 for the broader group, putting Hispanics well north of the $40,000 level generally indicative of middle-class consumption behavior.

  • 31 percent of the Hispanic audience attended college or earned a college degree, compared with 51 percent of all U.S. magazine readers.

  • 60 percent of Hispanic readers have one or more children under 18 at home versus 37 percent of the broader group.

The diversity of Hispanics’ interests — and resulting marketing opportunities for fashion companies, among others — is reflected in the demographic’s magazine reading habits. Approximately 10.4 million of the country’s 39 million Hispanics read newsweeklies, 10.1 million read general interest magazines, 9.3 million read women’s titles, 6.3 million read home service publications and 5 million read parenting magazines.

The 10 English-language titles read by the most Hispanics are Reader’s Digest, TV Guide, Better Homes & Gardens, National Geographic, Woman’s Day, Time, People Weekly, Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, and Cosmopolitan. Spanish-language magazines best read by the group are Ser Padres, People En Español, Readers Digest Selecciones, Latina, Vanidades, TV Y Novelas, Cristina La Revista, Cosmopolitan En Español, Newsweek En Español, and Fura Musical.

Only one apparel marketer cracked the rosters of top 10 advertisers to Hispanics or top 10 advertisers in Hispanic magazines in 2002. Not surprisingly, it was Sears, Roebuck & Co., and it made both lists. Sears is one of the few apparel merchants that has made a dedicated effort to reach Hispanics — and has done so for the past 10 years.

Sears spent $42 million on Hispanic advertising in 2002, or more than twice the $17 million it spent in 1997, placing it fifth on the list of targeted spenders. Topping the chart was Procter & Gamble, which shelled out $70 million for Hispanic-aimed ads last year, up 74 percent from $40 million five years earlier. After P&G came Altria (formerly Philip Morris), which expended $64 million; General Motors, $51 million; AT&T, $45 million; Sears and McDonald’s, each spending $42 million; Coca-Cola, $41 million; Toyota Motor Co., $39 million; Pepsi-Cola, $35 million, and AOL/Time Warner, $34 million.When the universe is narrowed to the 10 top advertisers in Hispanic magazines last year, four of the biggest spenders on all Hispanic media make the list, along with six others. Procter & Gamble again ranks first, with spending of $8.4 million in targeted titles last year. Next were Ford Motor Co. and L’Oréal, which dished out $4.7 million and $3.3 million, respectively; GM and Toyota, each spending $2.6 million; Colgate-Palmolive, Sears, and Kraft Food Holdings, each expending $1.3 million, and Brown & Williamson and Kimberly-Clark, each shelling out $1.2 million.

Together those advertisers accounted for ads valued at $27.9 million, or 28 percent of the $98.2 million in ad revenue realized by Hispanic-targeted titles in 2002.

More broadly, in 2002, government, politics and organizations spent the greatest share of Hispanic-targeted ad dollars, which amounted to $321 million, or 17 percent of the $1.89 billion in targeted spending. By comparison, the category ranked just 14th in ad spending aimed at non-Hispanic whites. Automotive advertisers spent the biggest portion of their ad monies to reach those general market shoppers, or 16 percent.

The balance of the top 10 categories snagging the most Hispanic media dollars were direct-response companies, placing second, with a 13 percent share, or expenditures of $246 million, followed by food, 10 percent, or $189 million; automotive and technology, each with a 9 percent share, or $170 million; home furnishings and retail, each with a 7 percent share, or $132 million, and restaurants, personal care and cosmetics, and drugs and remedies, each with a 5 percent share, or $95 million.

If there’s a silver lining for apparel marketers to snatch from the clouds of missed opportunity, it lies in the Hispanic youths, who represent a chance to make up for lost time. For instance, in 2000, 35 percent of Hispanics were under 18; Hispanic teens accounted for 20 percent of U.S. teens, or 4.6 million — and are forecast to balloon 62 percent by 2020 to 7.5 million people, as they grow six times faster than teens overall.

That projection looks especially sweet for magazines and their advertisers, as 59 percent of Hispanic teens are reading magazines. The outlook continues to brighten when the youths’ purchasing power is taken into account: In 1998 it totaled $19 billion, or $320 a month — about 4 percent more than non-Hispanic teens.

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