Make Your Marketing Dollars Pay: Target Tweens

In the not-too-distant past, most marketers tackled Hispanic targeting by trying to segment the market into groupings such as first generation, second generation, third generation, acculturated, assimilated, etc. Hispanics and marketers alike were confused as to what generation or group they fit into! It seemed for a time that every new market researcher had a new way of segmenting the Hispanic market. Well, the days of broad buckets are over. The tools are available online to take a more sophisticated approach to targeting the Hispanic market.

Today, marketers can target Hispanic campaigns with the same precision as their general marketing programs. Why water down the effectiveness of your Hispanic marketing by blasting messages to such broad categories? It takes time too get targeting right. You will likely find that your audiences aren't where you thought they'd be, or aren't jumping at the promotions you thought would entice them.

Start as broadly as possible and then layer in additional data sources over time based on the results of testing and optimization. First, the basics: language, gender, age, and geography, and then add in more information resources such as demographic research, behavioral targeting, contextual targeting, web analytics or purchase data to better hone in on your target audience. Then, mix it up by using different testing and targeting techniques to fine-tune your campaigns and understand which campaign messages resonate most.

I know what you're thinking: right now, you do not have the budget to craft dozens of targeted campaigns for different sub-groups of the Hispanic market. You're wondering, instead, how much your marketing budget will be cut this year. But one sub-group of the Hispanic market that is worth targeting today -- because it can deliver massive ROI even during tough times -- is Hispanic tweens.

By 2010, there will be about 4.5 million U.S. Hispanic children between ages 10 and 14, a figure that is expected to more than double in 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In some towns, Hispanic youth make up the majority of the population; in Fresno, Calif., for example 70% of all children under the age of 10 are Hispanic, and 63% of the area's entire teen population is Hispanic. It's hard to argue that this group doesn't have tremendous influence and will exert it more and more over time.

To effectively reach Hispanic tweens, you need to do your research. Like any other demographic, you have to create campaigns, launch them, test them, and optimize them over time. That being said, here are five proven methods that seem to resonate with Hispanic tweens you should consider trying first:

1. Use online lead generation. Sure video, viral, and social media are cool -- and likely to appeal to a tween audience. But online lead generation actually works to drive revenues. Tweens are very receptive to lead-generation campaigns such as games, subscription sign-ups, newsletters, sweepstakes, and contests. Every time a young person signs up for one of these campaigns, you capture their email address -- and can stay connected with them in the future via email campaigns. And lead-gen campaigns help you further identify the unique preferences of your tween audience.

2. Don't forget mobile. Many tweens already have cell phones, and they use them daily to text their friends. Text messages are a key way to connect with tweens, especially if you offer them a fun service, such as daily horoscopes, that doesn't feel like an ad. Cell phone numbers can be collected right alongside emails in your lead-gen efforts. You get a branding boost, as well as their mobile number in your database for future text messaging campaigns.

3. Tap social media -- but in a focused way. Tweens like to hang out on social networks created just for them (most are still too young to go on Facebook or MySpace), but they probably aren't going to notice your ads there. What they do want, however, is to be entertained. Tweens like to dress avatars in new fashions, enter their names into nickname generators, play "Magic 8 Ball"-type games that tell them who they'll marry one day -- and all the other types of games that engage kids this age who are trying to figure out who they are. You can sponsor these games for a "low pressure" way to boost your brand.

4. Tune into "reverse acculturation." Hispanic tweens present a unique opportunity not only to influence the buying decisions of a young generation, but also their families. Tweens and teens are often highly acculturated -- speaking English, identifying as American, clued into brands. But they also find themselves in multi-generational homes and with grandparents who don't always speak English as well and are less connected to trends. Hispanic families are family-centric, and children are looked to for making purchase decisions on everything from breakfast cereal to cars. By making your brand front-and-center with tweens, you're also reaching their parents and grandparents.

5. Think global. Tweens today, probably more than any other generation, consider themselves global citizens. Hispanic tweens embrace Spanish and are proud of their heritage (unlike former generations of Hispanic kids who were made to feel ashamed of their backgrounds and encouraged to assimilate and speak English). They chat in Spanish with relatives in Latin America online, but also connect with multicultural English-speaking friends (white, Asian-American, African-American) on the soccer field and in the school yard. To win with this group, celebrate what they do: multiculturalism and multilingualism.

Hispanic youth are a powerful force. Several recent studies point out that Hispanic buying power may be more likely to weather the storms of recession than other groups largely due to its higher proportion of young, brand-conscious consumers. Representing such a large part of the overall U.S. population now -- and even more so in the next decade -- Hispanic tweens are the current and future customers for your brand. Don't ignore them!

Editor's note: If you'd like to contribute a column to this newsletter, contact Nina Lentini.

Tags: demographics
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3 comments about "Make Your Marketing Dollars Pay: Target Tweens ".
  1. Lauri Jordana from Conexion Marketing , February 7, 2009 at 5:53 p.m.

    Hi, Alicia. I really enjoyed reading this piece!

    I think you're right on with the Hispanic Tween category being a high-value focus, and I also see companies moving away from the acculturation "buckets" especially now that we've got new tools that help us differentiate not just by segment but at the customer level.

    You mentioned Fresno. Well, even emerging-market Seattle is seeing Hispanic youth at an all-time high: the Seattle School district shows about 13% of kids K-12 as Hispanic; whereas overall population is at 8%.

    Thanks again, and keep contributing!
    Lauri

  2. J F , February 11, 2009 at 5:11 p.m.

    Nice to see valuable multicultural marketing advice for the times, that doesn't keep telling us to segment according to outmoded stereotypes. Are we as an industry finally getting that people of color are not monolithical groups in any marketing sense? Wow!

    Great article!

  3. Ivan Cevallos from Ethos Group Inc. , February 24, 2009 at 3:38 p.m.

    Alicia,
    I attended a presentation you did at the Hispanic Billboard Awards last year. your article is on target. Every day there are more opportunities to target Hispanics via the web. The need to integrate new and old media is important. Sites that could be considered main stream (MySpace) have 25% plus Hispanic users. Have you seen the number of applications that are culturally and region relevant in Facebook i.e. "regalos regios" (refers to a city in northern Mexico). The basics still are your building blocks, the strategies are integrating more online tools.

    My point for the need to integrate offline is easily demonstrated when you look at the ratings for Hispanic radio and TV in top DMA's.

    Ivan Cevallos