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Hispanic TV Summit: The Rising Tide of Hispanic influence

How do companies measure, market and program to the multi-faceted Hispanic audience in the United States? Marketers and agencies can start by not treating the Hispanic market as a monolith but rather the diverse, bilingual and multiplatform consumers that they are.

That was the take-away at the Hispanic Consumer Behavior and TV Viewing Habits panel at the B&C/Multichannel News 8th Annual Hispanic Television Summit Sept. 29 in NYC.

It's no secret to marketers and agencies that the Hispanic consumer's influence is growing.

The 2010 Census will reveal that the Hispanic population has grown by 3.5%, that's four times the population growth rate for African Americans. Fifty percent of Hispanics in this country are U.S.-born.

"More and more consumption is happening is happening in the Hispanic market," observes Carol Hinnant, senior VP of national network sales, advanced media and information at Rentrak Corporation.

Hispanic programming amounts to two billion hours a month. Thirty eight percent of brand new TV homes will be Hispanic.

"This whole idea of a majority minority is very much a reality," says Jessica Pantanini, COO of Bromley Communications.
Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, an advocacy group that works with the administration and Chamber of Commerce on immigration and other issues, notes that Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of small business owners. Already Hispanic-owned businesses account for $465 billion annually in revenue. And with money comes influence.

"Hispanic business is hot," says Palomarez. "It's on the lips of any senator or congressman and certainly anyone who wants to be president of the United States because of the impact the Hispanic community has on the economy. The potential is huge, it's really how do you unlock that growth."

Indeed, marketing to Hispanic consumers, say the panelists, has remained stolidly status quo, a one size-fits-all approach to a vast and complicated demographic that breaks along linguistic, cultural and technological lines.

"Language is no longer what defines Hispanic content," says Aldo Quevedo, president of Dieste.

"At the end of the day [the Hispanic] household is a very complex household," adds Pantanini. "I think we spend a lot of time trying to make it fit into this little box. It's getting a lot more complicated and a lot more interesting and also a lot tougher."

That complexity calls for a complete reframing of a marketing message that is increasingly technology driven.

"The Hispanic household is multigenerational and multi-technology," observes Daisy Exposito-Ulla, chairman and CEO of d exposito & Partners. "Technology is the main differential in today's environment versus ten years ago. So it's very complex. And traditional media planning and buying like it was 10 years ago is no longer sufficient."

Part of the problem is a lack of appreciation of the power, significance and complexity of the Hispanic community on the part of CMO's, who Palomarez notes, have a "life span" at any one company of about two years. "So the person you really need to sell to is the COO and the CFO."

Exacerbating the problem, notes Pantanini, are the internal machinations and jockeying for power at agencies and corporations that would seek to make inroads in the multi-billion dollar Hispanic market.
"There is an internal power struggle about who does what, who controls the budget," says Pantanini. "Budget is P&L and P&L is power."

But despite the rather unequivocal data demonstrating the growth and consumption of the Hispanic consumer age-old perceptions persist. In the end, the key to unlocking the potential of the Hispanic market, for agencies, marketers and content providers, is education.

"I've been around for a long time," notes Exposito-Ull. "Twenty five years ago, Hispanics were all going to speak English by now. We're still speaking Spanish. We're still growing. We're still vibrant. Let's go out and show clients the value of the Hispanic consumer."