Monday, March 30, 2009

Hispanics and Sports - Futbol vs. Football

The second reason why Acculturated Latinos choose Hispanic targeted media in Spanish is really quite simple: soccer. Or actually, let's call it futbol since that is how we refer to it.

For non-Hispanic Americans, it's hard to comprehend how large an audience futbol commands. Futbol for them is a children's game that minivan moms shuttle their kids to practice after school. Maybe, they cite the World Cup, the tournament that grips the globe every four years. Of course, by globe we mean every country except the majority of people in the U.S.

But futbol is a religion to Hispanic Americans. It doesn't matter if you are U.S. born or foreign born, acculturating or unacculturated. The fact of the matter is, soccer is king.

Sure, the NFL commands a pretty large Hispanic audience - last year the league drew 70% of Hispanics. But, the recent World Cup qualifying match between the USA and Mexico reached about 85% of all Hispanics (male or female, young or old) through television, radio, online and mobile. Also, there's a reason why the Spanish word for futbol fans is "hinchas," which means "to pump" as in the act of pumping the very soccer balls they use to play the game. Hispanic fans are as integral to the game as the actual ball they kick along the pitch.

Going back to the original point of this two-part post, sure you can reach more acculturated Hispanics via general market media. But, let's be honest...reach isn't really the name of the proverbial game these days, it's "engagement" or "connection" or "breaking-through" to this audience. You can ignore the opportunity to address this attractive target at your peril, but make no mistake that your competition may not be so cautious.

The Power of Spanish-Language News

Clients often tell me that they adequately reach "acculturated" Hispanics via their general market media plans. They also believe that English Dominant Hispanics simply do not watch or read Spanish-language media, despite data that shows a portion of them do. Why would they consume Hispanic targeted media if they speak English? Well, options for one. But really, it boils down to two words: News and Sports.

Today, let's tackle news. Hispanic focused news organizations cover topics that general market news bureaus just don't touch: immigration, inner city education, workplace injustice and information on legal and government processes.

But more importantly, the lens that Spanish-language news organizations use to filter information is far different. Don't believe me? Let's look at an example.

A lot of digital "ink" has been used to cover Mexico's violent war against the drug cartels which have left over 8,000 dead. Today, featured a piece on the escalating violence and spoke about the corruption of police forces, the flow of money and weapons from the U.S. into Mexico and the aid that Mexico will receive from the U.S.

Now, look at a piece on that highlights the dead, particularly the "good" authorities that have been murdered by the drug cartels for refusing bribes.

No doubt, American media has a very particular point-of-view on Mexico, Mexico's systems and certainly, it's "third world" or "developing" status. Yet we Hispanic-Americans have a more nuanced and arguably, accurate perspective on our countries of origin. Spanish-language news organizations give us a better picture on what is occuring there and discuss topics like the human toll of this war, something that U.S. based media simply glazes over. Apparently, dead Mexicans aren't that interesting.

Until American media broadens its approach to the coverage (or lack there of) that it provides for relevant Hispanic issues, Latinos - acculturated or not, will always turn to Spanish-language news as an alternative.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Latino Instant Communication

Data on Hispanic online behavior can hardly keep up with the lightning speed of changes occurring in the ways we use these technologies. One area where we over-index is in communication tools like instant messenger. With family and friends spread across the street to across the globe, we use these tools to stay connected.

Yet top instant messenger MSN is starting to see a decline in Hispanic usage. The culprit, Facebook instant messenger, where a lot of Hispanics are spending their time these days. But Facebook has some competition. A popular feature, the "status update," is already being replaced by Twitter, a service with huge popularity in urban areas.

While Twitter is enjoying growth, its' time may pass before it finds a way to earn revenue. Hispanics are going threw the web at warp speed, Twitter and Facebook need not hold back on the accelerator to keep up.

College Bound Latinos

Latino students lag their non-Hispanic counterparts in college attendance. But recent data revealed by MSNBC and the Pew Hispanic Center indicate that those numbers are improving. In 2008, Hispanics represent 12% of college students, that's 2% higher than in 2006. While these are certainly great strides, we still need to close the gap to reach at least 15% - equal to our national population composition.

The reasons for the improvement depend on who you speak to. Some note that Bush's No Child Left Behind legislation helped improve performance in inner city schools. Others say that a migration form English as a Second Language programs to intense English immersions bettered the chances of Hispanic children to succeed.

Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that a greater number of Latino college graduates will only strengthen this community's power both politically and as consumers. If there was ever a question about the continued existence of the American Dream, look no further than Latino advancement as an indication.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Multicultural Job Seekers

Employment search sites have reported a surge in traffic as a result of the 8% national unemployment rate. Since Hispanic and African American unemployment is above 10%, one would imagine that they represent a sizable portion of these unique visitors.

Back in January, attorney Cyrus Mehri filed a civil lawsuit against the major advertising agencies in the US. His firm cited data gathered in a commissioned study that shows a clear lack of African American representation in the industry. Some stats showed that African Americans made up just 5.8% of professionals and only 3.2% of managerial roles despite representing 14% of the population. Mr. Mehri's firm also found that blacks earned 20% less than their white counterparts. While the study did not include Hispanics, one would assume that a similar trend persists. Both minority groups contend that they are mostly relegated to roles in multicultural agencies, if they are hired at all.

With high unemployment and rampant layoffs at top ad agencies, where can multicultural job seekers turn to find career opportunities? Career Builder and Monster, the top two job seeker sites have developed diversity enhanced sites to address this need.

For example, Career Builder partnered with MSN Latino to launch EmpleosCB, a site targeted to Latino job seekers. partnered with the NAACP to launch a diversity search site.

Despite some of these targeted opportunities, the challenge still remains that there are few jobs to fill and now more competition than ever. But one thing is certain, advertising agencies in the enviable position to hire during this economic crisis should strongly evaluate the potential contributions of a more diverse staff.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Latino Music Downloads

The other day, Scarborough Research indicated the huge strides Hispanics have made online especially in content downloads. The biggest growth has been music downloads. We Latinos love music! That's certainly clear when you see that 32% of Hispanics download music vs. 24% of non-Hispanics.

The top performing sites online have tons of music content. is a music behemoth and relative newcomer having come of age over the past four years. According to Comscore, it attracts about 700,000 unique visitors to its collection of online radio stations of all types of Latino inspired music. Other sites include Telemundo's sister network for Bicultural Hispanics, mun2 which has a companion online site: Then of course there is which has been growing over the past 2 years. And for Latinos who love their Miley Cyrus as much as their Paulina Rubio, there is Yahoo Música. iTunes now also has a Latino channel. With all of these music options online, one can only imagine that music downloads will continue to be a critical touchpoint to reach truly engaged Hispanics.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Multicultural Consumer Confidence

A new report entitled Yankelovich Multicultural Marketing Study (there's a lot of cool research out this week) evaluated the current mindset of African American and Hispanics in the United States. The study sheds some light on the challenges that both ethnic groups are facing in light of greater empowerment. This is defined not only by political strength, but by consumer buying power in the United States.

Both African Americans and Hispanics note that they feel greater optimism for their personal future as a result of Barack Obama's presidency (87% and 79%, respectively compared to only 55% for non-Hispanic whites.) Yet, in light of the economic crisis, 54% of African Americans and 65% of Hispanics say they feel moderate to high anxiety about their current prospects. That compares to 43% of non-Hispanic whites.

With both African American and Hispanic unemployment reaching the 10% mark compared to the national average of 8%, it's no surprise that multicultural consumers are feeling the economic crisis like no one else. Add into the mix that both ethnic groups were disproportionately affected by the sub-prime mortgage mess and you have a recipe for disaster.

But despite these challenges, African Americans and Hispanics are critical consumer segments for marketers. They continue to grow economically (both approaching $1 trillion in buying power) and politically, (African Americans and Hispanics were critical to Obama's success.) As a result, advertisers should avoid the temptation to walk away from multicultural marketing during this recession. Neither group is genetically predisposed to brand loyalty and one brand's loss, is another one's gain.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What Digital Divide?

The digital divide is narrowing. Today is like Christmas for yours truly. Scarborough Research just released a study on Hispanic online activity. In all key aspects especially pertaining to content downloads, Hispanics are leading the pack. (45% downloads vs. 32% for non-Hispanics.)

It's not that I want to say I told you so. But, today I sort of do. While the report does indicate that the total number of Hispanics online does lag the general population (54% vs. 68%), the rate of growth is staggering. Also, Hispanics leap frogged dial-up connections and went straight to broadband with penetration of 68% vs. 71% for the general population.

What I did find quite surprising is that online purchasing does not lag general market as much as I originally thought. In fact, 62% of Hispanics reported buying something online in the past 12 months vs. 70% for all internet users. They also spent similar amounts online to the general population ($762 vs. $861.) This new data does make me want to reevaluate my previous post on Hispanic online shopping.

All in all, the information contained in this report provides more evidence of the growing importance of the digital space for Hispanics. We continue to debunk the digital divide.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Diversity on Network Television Lags

For the past four years, I've read the same article. It's like déjà vu during the time when new network television shows get green lighted for a pilot. Today the NY Times reported on the lack of diversity on network shows - new or existing. No news here.

The fact that network television gets whiter every year, while the population gets browner is yet more evidence of the Big 4 networks' demise. Few programs feature prominent African American or Hispanic characters. Programs with primarily African American casts are disappearing. (Forget about an all Hispanic cast - we haven't seen that since the George Lopez Show, cancelled and now rerun in syndication.) And ratings continue to migrate to cable where casts are more diverse and program concepts are more adventurous.

Given that African Americans and Hispanics generally like to watch their programs live instead of DVR-time delayed, one would imagine that networks would be clamoring to better address these audiences. Unfortunately, in the Big 4 networks efforts to be of general interest (i.e. appeal to mostly Anglo sensibilities), they fail to connect with anyone at all.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hispanic Targeted Online Video

Ad Age reported today that, the Fox-NBC joint online video venture, is now the second most trafficked video site - trailing YouTube.

Given Hispanics' propensity to watch videos online, I wondered, where does Telemundo fit into all of this? Telemundo afterall, is NBC-Universal's Spanish-language flagship network. It's suppose to be their crowning, visionary achievement in understanding the opportunity that Hispanics pose to the marketing world. But Telemundo's content is no where to be found on Hulu.

Telemundo owns its content, unlike most of the programming airing on it's gorilla sized competitor, Univision. That includes the right to distribute it on digital platforms.

Yet, Telemundo has struggled in the online space. It recently divorced its distribution partner, Yahoo!, partially dissolving a strong Spanish-language portal that attracted over 1.6MM unique visitors in January 2008, according to Comscore. In January 2009, a Telemundo-less Yahoo! en Español attracted 1.3MM unique visitors, a 19% drop.

But a stand-alone audience is a shell of its former self. In January, the struggling new site attracted just 133,000 unique visitors despite a televised media blitz on Telemundo network and on MSN Latino - their new online distribution partner.

It remains to be seen whether or not will be able to regain even a fraction of the audience it once enjoyed through its partnership with Yahoo!. But it begs the question - why not tap into instead of going at it alone?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

NYTimes Explore How Immigration Impacts US

The New York Times today launched A Room To Debate, a new forum and discussion group focusing on the impact of immigrants on the U.S.

Rather than just let readers battle it out which typically degenirates into a bigoted conversation full of hate, The Gray Lady assembled top advisors from different perspectives and backgrounds to provide their input. Readers can still comment, but that is clearly not the focus.

Today's discussion surrounds education and the debate over English as a Second Language (ESL). This type of dialogue is critical for America as we continue to grapple with concerns over job loss, illegal immigration and the overall impact of the changing face of America. Be sure to follow this dynamic conversation.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gossip Girl (and Boy)

The self proclaimed Queen of Media, Perez Hilton, may be the most well-known celeb gossip blogger on the net. The fact that he is Cuban-American is not surprising. We Latinos love gossip! Love it!

A quick Google search for "farandula" (gossip) resulted in 912,000 different sites dedicated to the subject. "Chisme" is another word that means gossip, and that term generated 1,090,000 hits. (The fact that we have more than one word that means gossip should be a tip-off.) All the Spanish-language portals have a significant number of pages dedicated to the subject. People en Espanol's site attracts a pretty large audience daily seeking the latest on Salma Hayek's French wedding or Jessica Alba's latest denial of her Hispanic heritage.

Following celebrities for Latinos is like a cultish religion. The most popular programs on Univision and Telemundo, the most trafficked sites online and the highest circulation magazines are all dedicated to this subject.

With so much interest in this "escapist" content - marketers need to figure out more creative ways of tying into this world. While many advertisers shy away from tabloids in the general market, in the Hispanic market - you're aversion is a missed opportunity to connect during a seriously guilty pleasure.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Technically a Padre

Online Spanish-language content is still no where near the levels of English-language, especially targeted to U.S. Hispanics. Aside from the major Hispanic targeted portals, there has been few opportunities to target different mindsets and lifestages. This of course, is changing on a daily basis.

Case in point, an AOL-backed site, Techno Padres, launched today targeting Spanish-dominant mothers of pre-teen kids. The site's content is being powered by The Online Mom, a site targeted to tech savvy moms mostly in English. Techno Padres is a nice complement to an existing player, Todobebe, which targets pregnant women and mothers of preschool aged children. A Johnson & Johnson powered site, Baby Center en Español, also has robust content for expectant mothers, but they have yet to attract a sizable audience.

Until recently, parenting content online and in Spanish has been hard to find. Moms, hungry to find information on child rearing have flocked to social networks instead. There is a Spanish-language mommy group on MySpace with 2.7MM users. There they converse and exchange ideas on a host of issues like cold remedies and how to stop little Consuelo from biting her nails.

Becoming a parent is no doubt one of the scariest things in life. (Will I screw this kid up!?) Again, the universal human experience trumps language and culture.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

YouTube en Español

Last month I posted a blog about pirated Spanish-language Univision content on YouTube. The jist - there's a lot of it. So, it came as no surprise that while I was reviewing the top 10 Youtube videos of 2008, that a Spanish-language short movie, Lo Que Tú Querías Oír (What you wanted to hear), was in the #3 spot. The quirky "love story" (if you want to call it that) logged 76.5 million views. That's impressive.

What's really surprising is that the video was uploaded back in 2006! But, the video's audience didn't really take off until last year. It speaks to several factors including the shelf life of content online, the dynamics of viral and word-of-mouth online and the hyper growth in popularity of Spanish-language content online. Tons of topics for us to tackle another day, but I expect these types of examples will only continue to multiply.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Latino Beauty 2.0

No self-respecting Latina goes out of the house without “her face.” Beauty for Hispanics is prized – it’s right up there with family and religion. It’s no surprise then that the number of minorities seeking cosmetic surgery is on the rise, with nearly one in four procedures in 2007 performed on ethnic patients, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Hispanics led with 9 percent. Of course, the web is a key source of information on plastic surgery.

The leader in this space is, a web referral system that connects doctors with patients. It also supplies in depth knowledge on various procedures with striking before-and-after images.

I was curious to see what steps Glen Lubbert, President of Mojo Interactive and, is taking to address the needs of these potential consumers.

According to Comscore, attracts about half a million unique visitors per month with Hispanics accounting for 5.6% of that audience, are you currently addressing this audience in a unique way?
The doctors featured on our site control the description of the cases they highlight. They love to show before and after photos. Those galleries perform well across all audiences including Hispanics – everyone wants to see what was there and what they made of it.

Do any of your doctor clients highlight their specialization in ethnic populations or indicate if they offer service in Spanish?
Absolutely. Language scope is part of our basic form set-up. That’s an area where minorities can look. Some doctors market themselves as ethnic specialists, too. Many of our doctors in South Florida and Southern California have dedicated marketing efforts to these populations.

Have you considered a mirror Spanish-language site or areas of Spanish-language content to increase your Hispanic traffic?
We’ve discussed it at length and explored different ways to approach the Hispanic opportunity either within the site or with outside content like a blog. The bottom line is that we are trying to connect patients with doctors; the language is a secondary concern. We have not invested behind this area, because so far we’ve been pretty effective serving all audiences with English-language content. But, we don’t rule this out for the near future.

After speaking to some minorities interested in plastic surgery, many fear that their features would look "too white". Are there new procedures or specific training in treating ethnic populations?
The site’s before and after gallery is really a great tool to highlight specific races and ethnicities. The doctors there showcase their best work and specialization against those populations. It’s up to the patient and their selected doctor to discuss the particulars of their case to make sure they are happy with the outcome.

Ethnic populations tend to be younger, are there specific procedures like liposuction or tummy tucks that you could make more prominent to attract this audience’s interest?
Google and other search engines provide us with an indication of what procedures are of most relevance to our site users. We also look at our proprietary traffic data by age and ethnicity to prioritize content. We’re always looking to increase leads to our doctors.

For those seeking procedures abroad to save money, does provide research information on available in-country specialists?
Not presently. We have a few doctors subscribed in Mexico, but those directories are not as extensive as the info in the U.S. and Canada. The Mexican doctors subscribed to our service are right along the Texas border for patients in the U.S. looking for a cheaper alternative.

Money is an important factor. Hispanic-Americans are getting wealthier and indulging in life’s luxuries. Are there unique financial plans and payment plans to draw in middle-class customers? Is your company involved in this area?
Yes, our pages on financing are very popular. GE Money/Care Credit is our partner for potential patients to customize a loan or installment plan that fits their budget. It makes elective surgery more affordable.

How is the current financial crisis impacting your business?
There are fewer people looking to do elective procedures, overall. Google’s traffic is down for search terms related to cosmetic surgery, but there are still people looking. Instead of choosing more involved procedures, they are choosing minimally invasive ones like Botox treatments or skin resurfacing.

How do you think popular culture and the entertainment industry are impacting the cosmetic surgery industry?
Tremendously. Several television shows like The Swan, Nip/Tuck, and Dr. 90210 create a lot more buzz and drive traffic online when they air.

How has the web changed the cosmetic surgery industry?
Patients are more informed and have better expectations of what they can have done. Anytime you are making more realistic expectations, you are winning.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Why Hispanics Shop Online, but Don't Buy

Retailers are grasping at any opportunity to grow their sales in these turbulent times. Hispanics and our enormous buying power - over $980 billion in 2008 is certainly an attractive audience. $980 billion! To put that in context, that means that the 46 million Hispanics living in the U.S. have the second largest Spanish-speaking economy in the world, larger than Spain and second only to Mexico. That won't last. In 4-5 years, the U.S. Hispanic population will be wealthier than the entire Mexican economy which includes 110 million people.

So, Hispanics are critical to growing retailer business. No question. Then why is it that of all the retailers, just Best Buy and The Home Depot, have Spanish-language ecommerce-enabled sites?

Is it because Hispanics who can afford to buy online speak English so what's the use of maintaing two sites? Nope. That's silly. 60% of the Hispanic audience is Spanish-Dominant and another 15% is Bilingual - that doesn't mean those folks don't speak English. Most of us do. But we still want to do business in español.

Is it because Hispanics can't afford to buy online? No. See my earlier point about our buying power.

We Hispanics do shop online. Tons of data from AOL/Roper and Comscore support our propensity to research and shop online...but we don't really buy online. Huh? Where's the disconnect?

The reality is that while we love to research and shop online, we love to shop in person more. So while my mom may check out to see what cute tops they have, she is less likely to click and pay for it online. She wants to try it on, feel the material and inspect the seams to make sure they weren't poorly made and make sure it fits well. And mostly, she just wants to get out of the house and take a stroll at the mall.

I've seen a bunch of data to support this concept of traffic vs. sales. Hispanic traffic to stores remains strong, but we aren't buying as much...that's just the nature of the economy and this will ultimately improve.

However, what about online shopping sites? Should retailers just write off the Hispanic consumer? Hardly. It takes time to change consumer behavior and you don't want to be the retailer who missed the boat with Hispanic online buying (as oppose to shopping.) Also, keep in mind that it's not like they aren't buying at your retail location. If you treat your Spanish-language website like a really cool catalogue or very interactive window shopping experience, you may position yourself for future growth into a full ecommerce enabled site when the time is right.