Aperture: The Mercado Is Abierto

We have talked many times over the past year about finding consumers' marketing apertures -- the places where media usage, message receptivity, and product need meet. Uncovering those moments brings us closer to achieving the goal of being media agnostic, selecting communication channels based on their ability to achieve message receptivity and generate consumer action. This month, we'd like to widen our own aperture to consider a broader spectrum of U.S. consumers, specifically, Hispanic consumers, who wield an estimated buying power of $630 billion.

The past two U.S. censuses show a rapidly growing Hispanic population. In 1990, Hispanics represented 9 percent of the total population; by 2000, the U.S. Hispanic population had grown to 13 percent. That growth is projected to continue: up 23 percent in 2010 and up again 15 percent in 2020. While more than 60 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population was born in the U.S., more than 50 percent identify their language preference as Spanish-dominant or bilingual.

When we look at the top 10 Hispanic markets, we see that they represent 55 percent of all Hispanics living in the U.S. Of those 10 markets, six are within the top 10 demographic market areas (DMAS). In fact, the top radio stations in Los Angeles and New York are Spanish-language. Any advertiser messaging to consumers within those markets would do well to consider both English- and Spanish-language advertising.

Advertisers can debate whether or not to advertise to this population exclusively via Spanish-language media, or with a combination of English- and Spanish-language media, but we should agree on one thing: If we are to truly seek to engage the entire U.S. consumer marketplace, we must widen our view to include Hispanics. Maybe we should agree on one other thing -- that compelling advertising requires appropriate casting, culturally relevant messaging, and precise use of language. Doing anything less risks alienating the very consumer group with which we are seeking to engage.

Syndicated and proprietary research must begin to work together, so that we can develop a complete picture of the complex American consumer. We need to understand the same aspects of Hispanic consumers that we do of the general market -- their demography, purchase and product behavior, and media habits. Beyond this, we must understand the varied and rich Hispanic culture and contexts in which decisions are made and products are used.

The addition of Univision and Telemundo audience estimates in the Nielsen Television Index (NTI) Service has already provided some eye-opening insights. The weekly and daily publication of Univision and Telemundo data alongside traditional networks will force a top-of-mind awareness of this important consumer universe.

Cultural understanding reveals relevant insights about the Hispanic population. While in the general market population, a young girl's Sweet 16 symbolizes a certain rite of passage, the young Hispanic woman celebrates Quinceañera on her 15th birthday. Note to national and local florists: Seize the moment and extend your reach within a youthful and growing population.

Did you know that turkey, the mainstay of the American Thanksgiving dinner, also plays a central role in many Hispanic family celebrations throughout the year? Armed with this knowledge, a poultry brand might field a Spanish-language effort focusing in markets with high Hispanic populations. A continuous, well-rounded Hispanic marketing effort, including advertising, consumer, and retail promotion, might provide a sales lift outside of the 4th quarter.

In this era of client emphasis on market mix modeling, we understand the value of strong measurement of all U.S. population segments and respective communication channels. While we all work towards comprehensive measurement, reporting, and evaluation, let's not ignore what we already know. Existing data shows us that U.S. marketers reaching the general market should open their aperture to Hispanic audiences now.

Steve Farella, president-CEO, and Audrey Siegel, executive vice president and director of client services, are cofounders of TargetCast TCM. (

Next story loading loading..