New Latin Force Group To Focus On 'Hispanicity'

Latin Force, a Hispanic marketing strategy firm, is acquiring Geoscape International Inc., a multicultural consumer intelligence company. Goldman Sach's Urban Investment Group is a major investor in the new company, which will be called Latin Force Group, with offices in New York, Miami and Los Angeles.

With the acquisition of Geoscape, the agency can focus on the marketers' need for consumer spending and psychographic data on the fast-growing Hispanic market.

"Marketers sometimes make the mistake of oversimplifying their Hispanic marketing efforts by being too focused on ethnicity," says Cesar Melgoza, the managing director of the new company and founder of Geoscape, which includes an extensive database of cultural attributes, demographics and consumer spending data.

"Other factors are really critical--whether a bilingual prefers speaking in English or Spanish can change, depending on the product. A financial service company, for example, might find that even Hispanics who prefer English want to see materials in both languages. Or a consumer who prefers Spanish-language newspapers may use English-language Web sites."



In addition to the marketing basics of age, income and country of origin, Geoscape's database also analyzes consumers by something it calls Hispanicity--how acculturated consumers are to life in the U.S. These five types range from the Americanizado, typically third-generation Americans with few Hispanic cultural practices and who speak very little Spanish (about 15.5% of the population)--to the Latinoamericano newcomers, who typically speak practically no English (about 14.2 %.)

And despite the dozens of ways marketers are now beginning to slice and dice the Hispanic market, Melgoza does see a certain homogeneity to the Hispanic market: "We all do speak the same language--and despite the many differences in cultures, how long we've been here, the stage of life we're in, we do have an identity of being Hispanic in the U.S."

He says he's also seeing more evidence of Hispanic culture crossing over into mainstream Americana, whether it's in the form of fast-food tacos, pop music or baseball, despite the divisive national debate on immigration.

Back in December, Latin Force and Goldman announced plans to begin scooping up Hispanic marketing companies, citing the strong population growth, expanding purchasing power and new spending patterns of the Latino market. It said it would focus on companies with revenues of $55 million or more in the "below-the-line" segments of online promotion, special events and grassroots efforts, rather than TV and print.

In 2006, marketers spent $5.5 billion on Spanish-language media, the company says--a 14.4% year-over-year increase.

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