August 17, 2008

Marketers including old and new media vehicles are intrigued and challenged with how to brand for and effectively reach the US Hispanic bilingual and bicultural 12 -34 demographic.

Anyone involved in marketing to US Hispanic consumers has come to appreciate that this market is renowned for being highly loyal to brands.

In fact, Hispanic marketing experts have termed Hispanic brand loyalty as “almost hereditary.” Once a family becomes loyal to a brand, it is passed down from generation to generation.”

However, the US Hispanic 12 - 34 demographic represents not only a coveted consumer segment in real time, but for branding equity considerations it also represents a clean slate, as well as a cannot miss opportunity to establish brands over the long term.

Why is it the case?

Young US Hispanics are influenced by a number of sociological, psychological and economic factors that make them right for the picking to alter brand loyalties that may be prevalent in their families.

In spite of the high index of family centeredness or "familism" of US Hispanics and other recently arrived immigrant groups, the rebelliousness of youth plays a part in the need for young Hispanic to establish their own identity as concerns their family.

However, US Hispanics are still a minority and relatively disadvantaged in terms of economic, social and other factors.

Hence, as young Hispanics pull away from their culture to find a new identity they at the same time face a lack of identity with their general market, Afro-American and Asian-American counterparts.

This leads to the creation of and a clinging to a new and unique identity. An identity that deeply reflects a mix of the Latin, general market and urban cultures, in other words an amalgamation of the world they live in.

It is this new and unique identity that opens the door for marketers to establish their brands as the brand, message and content prism of young Hispanics is broader than that of older US Hispanics.

To be effective, marketers need to understand and fully immerse their product or service in this Hispanic sub-segment in terms of culturally driven messages that hit the “content hot-buttons” of these consumers who are in transition in more ways than one.

One advantage in identifying and reaching this segment is that language and cultural considerations other than country of origin become more relevant and are found across the demographic.

Of equal importance to the overall strategy are the choices of media vehicles in the case of marketers and the design of media vehicles in the case of media entities. In other words, the content in which the marketing message is delivered.

At present marketers have limited options in the selection of old and new media entities designed to reach young US Hispanics.

The more traditional over the air Spanish language media entities, Univision and Telemundo, generally face a “content disconnect” between the fare offered by their television networks, their new media vehicles and content necessary to appeal and deliver young, bi-lingual and bi-cultural US Hispanics.

The additional multi-platform vehicles of for example Univision Radio, does not add to the formula. This is due to the limited number of stations that Univision Radio owns in major markets and general market format franchises dominated by Clear Channel, CBS, Emmis and others.

Hence, Univision optimizes its reach with Contemporary Hit Radio and Adult Contemporary formats in major markets which are dominated by Ranchera, Salsa / Merengue and Ballad music mixes, which appeal to Spanish dominant listeners, but do not necessarily appeal to young bi-lingual and bi-cultural Hispanics.

Telemundo's, MUN 2 cable network does add value to reaching bilingual and bicultural US Hispanics, but due budget limitations and the priority of further establishing the main Telemundo network, a lack of “content hot-buttons” original programming causes their ratings to lag.

The market seems ripe for a media entity to undertake a first mover strategy to brand itself and deliver bilingual and bicultural US Hispanics with a staged roll -out of original, economically feasible, multi-platform content that combines old and new media vehicles and optimizes pressing the “content hot-buttons” of 12 - 34 US Hispanics.

Because of their interest in this key market segment and an inability to reach it in a pervasive manner, a long list of marketers of products and services will support this effort with their ad dollars.

By Julio Rumbaut

Julio Rumbaut, President of Rumbaut & Company has operating, strategic and transactional experience in US Hispanic media as owner, founder, CEO and general manager of various media outlets and as a Senior Advisor to Univision, TV Azteca, Azteca America, General Electric and Metromedia.

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