Commentary

'Hola!' Publisher Calls On Brands To Recognize 'High-Level' Hispanic Market

The struggles of the publishing industry come down to three things, according to Hola! magazine publisher Sylvia Banderas: over-saturation, over-complication, and what she calls “shiny-object syndrome.”

“Everyone in marketing and agencies are so caught up in what’s new, what’s coming, what the trend of the moment is, without really understanding how it’s going to affect their marketing plan,” she said.

She believes “print is highly effective, especially with certain audiences” and that sticking to the basics really works in print.

But the publishing industry is constantly wanting to evolve, leaving the market oversaturated, Banderas said.

In an attempt to rise above the competition, brands elbowed each other to get the most cutting-edge technology, the trendiest new apps, and the biggest YouTube and social media influencers, or chased each other to distribute on Facebook and Twitter.

“But we don’t know how to monetize any of that,” she said. “The new fancy app won’t make you money. It’s about trustworthy content that’s going to make a person stop and read and pay attention.”

She considers Hola! an example of that kind of content. The celebrity news magazine was founded in Spain 72 years ago and has expanded with local editions across the globe, including its U.K. version Hello! The U.S. edition, which Banderas oversees, launched in September 2016 and publishes every other month.

Hola! U.S. is targeting a demographic often overlooked: affluent, educated, Hispanic women in the United States.

The magazine doesn’t have any “Hispanic heritage cheesiness” and "definitely no maracas," Banderas said. Instead, Hola! focuses on celebrities and influencers, with themes like family, lifestyle and their success stories.

The Hispanic and Latino audiences in the U.S. recognize the name Hola! from their countries of origin, but Banderas said she has been shocked at how difficult it is to negotiate corporate contracts as a brand outside the “big four” of Conde Nast, Time Inc., Meredith and Hearst.

“We only get to negotiate smaller deals, so you kind of have to wait for the dust to settle from the big deals first,” she said.

Banderas claimed brands do not recognize the value of the Hispanic market.

“There are very few market segments that produce such a high level customer, the way that this country is shaping up in terms of population growth and discretionary income,” she said.

She finds it “frustrating” that brands are not willing to invest in the Hispanic market, and instead are “focused so heavily on low value CPMs.”

Agency partners would tell Banderas that she needed to reach those CPMs because “that’s for the Hispanic market.”

“When a brand delivers a high value consumer that is segmented for you, you should be paying more and not less,” she said.

As a result, the Hispanic market has taken “serious hits.” Meredith’s Siempre Mujer, for example, announced it was folding its print edition this month.

“The margin isn’t there because the CPMs are so low. The agency world doesn’t want to give it the value that it deserves,” Banderas said. “We are willing to pay a premium for better level content and so should our advertising partners.”

Banderas is notably proud that as a smaller brand the pub can focus on production aspects, such as paper quality, and snag exclusives with big names in pop culture like Sofia Vergara and Eva Longoria.

As the Hispanic market grows, so does its "power of the purse," she said, and brands should pay attention.

“I think more than ever it’s time to talk to this woman and validate her as a consumer, given all that’s going on in the U.S. as well,” Banderas said. “Myself being a Latina, right now I’m paying very close attention to brands who are speaking to me that makes me feel included and supported. It’s an important time for brands to talk to us and see our value as consumers.”

Hola! has worked with brands like L'oreal USA, Ford, Delta and Carolina Herrera.

The pub prints two versions of every issue, one in English and one in Spanish; they are not direct translations of each other, but are “adaptations." Subscribers can choose which version they receive in the mail, and brands can choose which language to advertise in, and can split the ads between the versions.

Banderas believes that in order to succeed in the print industry you have to “believe in something that’s worthwhile, do it right, create the right experience, go back to the basics and really figure out what works for you and what matters to you.”

“Never forget that it’s not that complicated. It’s fundamentally about building a connection,” she said.

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