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South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Big Firms Refining Hispanic Approach

By Doreen Hemlock Business Writer

February 18, 2004
Copyright ©2004 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. All rights reserved.

In San Antonio, where the bulk of residents are Hispanic, the No. 1 radio station is a Hispanic-targeted, English-language, hip-hop channel.

Hispanic media giant Univision also owns two more of the top 10 radio stations in the San Antonio market: a bilingual, English-Spanish station focused on Tejano music and another with Mexican music broadcast entirely in Spanish.

The diversity in San Antonio's radio market highlights the broad range of consumer preferences among U.S. Hispanics, the country's largest minority and one increasingly targeted by big corporations with ever larger advertising budgets.

Chicago-based market researcher Synovate dug deep into those differences Tuesday at a seminar in Miami Beach presenting its "2004 U.S. Hispanic Market Report." The 312-page study offered detailed categories to divvy up Hispanics, depending on how they adapt and react to the U.S. "host" culture and their levels of "cultural tension." Those categories can help companies design their ad and marketing campaigns more effectively, said research director James Forrest.

"We're not talking any more about major companies spending $500,000 a year on Hispanic marketing. Now, some spend $3 million, $10 million or $20 million a year, companies like GM and Procter & Gamble," Forrest said. "So, they need more specific tools to target Hispanics with those large amounts of marketing dollars."

The stakes are certainly high and growing.

Synovate's report estimated the number of Hispanics in the United States as of Jan. 1 at 43.5 million, or 14.7 percent of the U.S. total. That's up from 35.3 million, or 12.5 percent of the U.S. population just four years ago. Indeed, Hispanics likely will grow to 154 million or nearly 30 percent of Americans in 2050, the group found.

Furthermore, Hispanic buying power is growing even faster than the population numbers, reaching $575 billion this year. And while incomes tend to trail the U.S. average, Hispanics buy more of certain products than the average American -- more rice, milk and baby clothing per household, for example, panelists said.

"People who think Hispanics cannot or will not consume their products are mistaken," said McHenry Tichenor Jr., chief executive of Dallas-based Univision Radio in a luncheon speech that included information on San Antonio's radio market.

Reaching specific target groups among Hispanics depends on far more variables than using Spanish or English. Content also must vary, just as the stations in San Antonio aim at different age groups: the hip-hop for teens, Tejano music for those 35 and up, and regional Mexican tunes for the mainly 18-34 crowd, said Tichenor.

Synovate divides U.S. Hispanics into three broad segments based on their relationship to mainstream U.S. culture: the mostly and partly acculturated, and the relatively un-acculturated.

About 11 percent are "mostly acculturated," mainly U.S.-born Hispanics who tend to be most comfortable in English.

Yet the vast majority, or 63 percent, are only partly acculturated, residents who know English but often prefer Spanish. They include three sub-groups: "American Latinos," mainly immigrants, often with higher education levels, comfortable in both Hispanic and mainstream U.S. cultures; "New Latinos," immigrants largely in big cities like New York who have medium levels of cultural tension, and "traditionals," Spanish-dominant immigrants whose conservative values may conflict with mainstream U.S. lifestyles.

Their behavior differs widely. New Latinos, for example, tend to focus more on their U.S. family and buy a disproportionate share of mini-vans sold to Hispanics. Traditionals, in contrast, have one of the highest levels of international long-distance calling, keeping tighter links with their homelands, said Forrest.

"So, it's not enough to communicate family to Hispanics," he said. "Some segments respond to family in the United States and others to nostalgia."

The Hispanic market study used to be published every two years by Miami-based Strategy Research Corp. before that company was sold to Synovate.

As in previous years, the study found the greater Miami-Fort Lauderdale area ranked fourth in population among U.S. Hispanic markets, trailing Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

However, Miami-Fort Lauderdale ranked No. 1 among Hispanic markets in per-capita Hispanic buying power, surpassing $17,000 a year and beating out Colorado Springs with roughly $16,000 yearly.


Population: 43.5 million on Jan. 1, 14.7 percent of U.S. total

Largest markets: Los Angeles, 7.8 million; New York, 4.3 million; Chicago, 1.8 million; Miami-Fort Lauderdale, 1.8 million

Heritage or origin: Mexico, 66 percent; Central America, 9 percent; Puerto Rico, 8 percent; South America, 5 percent

Born outside the United States: 74 percent

Language at home: Spanish mostly, 63 percent; English and Spanish, 23 percent; English mostly, 14 percent

Total buying power: $575.5 billion

Top markets by per-capita buying power: Miami-Fort Lauderdale, $18,000; Colorado Springs, $17,000; Austin, $15,500

Registered U.S. voters: 11 million, or 34 percent of Hispanic adults

Projected 2050 population: 154 million, nearly 30 percent of U.S. total

SOURCE: "2004 U.S. Hispanic Market Report," by Chicago-based Synovate, which bought Miami-based Strategy Research Corp.

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