Wielding a potential spending power of $1.2 trillion, the Hispanic beauty consumer was the talk of the night during CEW Women & Men Beauty Series event on Jan. 19, titled “Marketing Beauty to the Hispanic Consumer.”
The panel, moderated by WWD Beauty Inc editor Jenny Fine, featured Graciela Eleta, senior vice president, client development group at Univision Communications Inc.; Linda G. Levy, vice president, merchandise marketing, cosmetics & fragrances at Macy’s Inc., and Alexandra Vegas, director of the multicultural business development organization at Procter & Gamble Co. The three discussed their experiences with talking to the Latin consumer and their tactics for engagement.
“It’s very hard to reach all our clients’ sales targets without addressing the Hispanic population head-on,” began Eleta, who emphasized the importance beauty plays in Latin American culture. “We don’t even go to the supermarket without wearing makeup. For us Latinas, outer beauty really reflects who we are as [people].”
After growing more than 40 percent in the last 10 years, the U.S. Hispanic population has now surpassed the 50 million mark. This demographic is also a relatively young one, with almost 35 percent under 18 years old. “It’s well known that Hispanics tend to get more beauty involved early on,” said Vegas. “There’s so much to learn about the demographics, but the most impactful is how young the population is.”
Eleta added the median age for Hispanics is actually 10 years younger than for the general market.
The three discussed some of the trends among Hispanic beauty consumers — namely the importance of color cosmetics, natural ingredients, fragrance for both women and men and celebrity endorsements. “In the beauty industry, one thing that is happening is that the Latin beauty stereotype is starting to influence the general market,” said Vegas, who named Jennifer Lopez, Eva Mendes and Sofia Vergara as recently-tapped beauty spokespeople helping rewrite the ideal. “She feels invited by brands who speak to her in her language; she feels at home with brands which reflect her culture,” said Eleta, adding that internal research has found that celebrity endorsements are 10 times more important than for non-Hispanics.
Eleta also revealed that the Latin consumer is very connected from a mobile standpoint: She loves television, magazines and is an avid blog reader, despite having fewer media outlets geared toward her. Joining Univision and Telemundo, the recent launch of News Corp.’s Mundo Fox now brings the total of Spanish-language networks to a mere handful. “Spanish-language media is a lot less cluttered, less fragmented,” said Eleta. “In that less cluttered environment, you get Latinas coming to fewer outlets.”
Because of this fact, Eleta says brand awareness for Latino consumers has, for the most part, been limited.
“The Latina consumer has not been exposed for 30 years to your brand,” said Eleta, naming “trial-driving initiatives” as necessary for speaking to this consumer. “Even first- and second-generation Latinas my not be privy — particularly in beauty — to all the benefits inside of a skin care line or a cosmetics line.”
On the retail side, Levy discussed Macy’s reaction to the Latin boom.
“It’s been an evolution, not a revolution, but everyone is really buying into the fact that we have to communicate to the consumer and talk to the consumer and represent the consumer,” said Levy, who stated that marketing at Macy’s has taken a turn for the inclusive, with multicultural spokespeople and Spanish-language commercials becoming the new norm. “Less than five years ago we probably had lovely Caucasian models at every single beauty counter. The world has changed and the world has evolved. Macy’s has truly evolved.”
For Vegas, who talked about product design and packaging, marketing to the Hispanic consumer does not mean reinventing the wheel.
“At P&G we have this overall strategy that we embrace certain areas but celebrate the differences, which means it’s not like we design everything single product for Hispanics differentially than for the general market,” she said, also emphasizing that Latin American consumers will often go the extra length to purchase their beauty products despite financial limitations.
“We have a growth engine — a nation within a nation — right here in our own backyard,” said Eleta. “It’s so important that we focus on the few opportunities we have.”