Hispanic Cable 2010: Marketers Explore Ways to Drive Dollars to Booming Demo

The 2010 Census is expected to indicate that the U.S. Hispanic population is continuing to grow at a tremendous rate.  This has marketing strategists voraciously exploring revenue opportunities targeting Hispanics in the cable marketplace. But unless adequate data is available to track growing viewership, it may be difficult for Hispanic cable to attract big ad dollars, according to a number of Hispanic marketing strategists speaking at a Hispanic cable market conference sponsored by B&C and the Cable Advertising Bureau Sept. 15 in New York.

“Learning from Latinos is really what 2010 should really be about,” said Walton/Isaacson Chief Hispanic Marketing Strategist Rochelle Newman Carrasco. She said Hispanics have done a good job combining their cultural identity with the positive aspect of acculturation. She also tried to debunk the assertion that Hispanic cable is in its infancy, saying “It’s in an evolutionary stage.”

Still, marketing executives believe the market has not yet realized much of its potential programming opportunities.  “Hispanic cable still remains very general interest [programming],” said Rick Marroquin, managing director of Mediabrands. “There’s no Food Network, there’s no Logo, there’s no Oxygen.” Marroquin said that when the Census data is released (in 2011), consumers might begin to see more specificity in Hispanic cable.

But the panelists admitted it would be difficult for ad dollars to pick up if metrics can’t properly illustrate how the country’s changing demographics are leading to increased spending by Hispanic cable viewers.  

Seeking out new programming (and ad) opportunities in the marketplace will be crucial to a segment that saw its biggest declines yet for the first half of 2009. Advertising dropped in Spanish-language media by 6.58% compared to the first half of 2008, according to Nielsen (though that dip was lower than the 15.4% fall for the general market).

And which audience segments are being underserved in the market? To hear the marketing exec’s tell it, a lot of them.  “I would start a female-targeted, high-quality, well-done programming network exclusively for Latina women. They don’t just want novellas,” said Marroquin.

Stephen Palacios, executive VP of Cheskin Research said a cable channel with some health/wellness components would be a good strategic move.  Lee Maicon, head of strategy for WING, said a regionalized, hyper-local play could be profitable.  

For advertisers with the inclination, the Hispanic marketplace has turned out some palatable results and progressive campaigns. Conill Advertising’s Robert Spallone and Climara Santos launched a multiplatform campaign for Toyota, aimed at selling the brand’s Tundra pickup to Hispanics who, consumer research showed, bought mostly domestic pickups. The campaign included live events and concerts tailored to Hispanic culture, geared towards showing the strength of the truck.  

“We really needed to win their respect,” by showing a knowledge of the consumer’s culture, said Santos, the agency’s director of client services.  

The campaign got results—the Toyota Tundra rose in market share among Hispanics from 9% to 16% from December 2006 to December 2008, a time period in which full-size pickups were losing market share overall.

There are currently 48.4 million Hispanics in the U.S., according to Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer with the Pew Hispanic Center, who spoke at the summit. That’s more than triple the Hispanic population in the U.S. in 1980. Passel estimated that the population would boom to 128 million by 2050, depending on a number of societal factors such as intermarriage within other ethnic groups and birth rate.  

But the expected growth rate, as well as the large number of young Hispanics (second generation-Hispanics have a median age of just 14 years-old), is what makes Hispanic demographics so important to advertisers.

“To us, [Hispanic marketing] it’s a no-brainer,” said Mark K. Stewart, VP of global media services for Kraft Foods, which has a Spanish-language food magazine, Comida y Familia.  “You’re either in the game or you’re dead.”