To Target Market, Be Savvy

Marketers specializing in 50-plus “zoomers,” Hispanics and women last week warned cable executives that they risk losing their existing market share if they don’t target these segments and cater to their real needs, rather than to myths about them.

“Knowing the customer, that’s the key to running the business,” said Sara Levinson, a cable veteran who is now president of the Women’s Group at magazine publisher Rodale. She spoke during a Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing session titled “New Ways to Slice, Dice and Entice New Audiences.”

Levinson and her fellow panelists in part dissected some of the popular misconceptions about several demographic groups that have become increasingly important to cable.

To kick off her presentation, AARP Services Inc. president Dawn Sweeney noted that its research has shown that when people aged 50 and older were asked what they would do if they had an extra hour each day, the No. 1 response — 23% — said they would watch an hour of cable or satellite TV.

“That came as a big surprise to us,” Sweeney said.

She then went through a laundry list of myths about consumers aged 50 and older, all of which have been proven incorrect. Those included the notion that this age group is afraid of computers and technology and loyally sticks to the same brands.

Panelist Gilbert Davila, The Walt Disney Co.’s vice president of multicultural marketing, was instrumental in the launch of ESPN Deportes earlier this year. He described in detail the growing importance of the Hispanic, African-American and Asian populations to all companies that want to maintain their franchises within their business sectors. In the case of Disney, for example, more than 50% of the visitors to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., now are Hispanic or Asian.

“America is evolving to be a true multicultural society,” Davila said. In fact, the U.S. Hispanic population will double to 80 million from 40 million in 2020 from 2002, according to Davila.

During the panel, Levinson also described how she, during a stint at the National Football League, created marketing strategies and ads to attract more women and kids to the league’s fan base. Her initiatives included creating licensed NFL clothing for both of those market segments and supporting “Race for the Cure,” the fundraiser for anti-breast cancer efforts.