August 11, 2020

by Karla Fernandez Parker

The U.S. sporting goods industry -- which includes toys, sporting goods, and sporting goods and outdoors retailers -- is greatly underspending toward Spanish speakers, according to Kantar 2019 figures. Network English-language ad spending was $173 million dollars, while Spanish-language spending was only $4 million dollars.

The numbers don’t improve much when looking at spot TV spending, with just $1 million toward Spanish spot TV by advertisers.

That’s just 2% of all spending in the category, when Hispanics account for 52 million Americans! Even subtracting the non-Spanish speakers, that still leaves roughly 38 million Spanish-speaking Hispanics which is 11.5% of the U.S. population.  

According to the Kantar Network TV spending report, the big spenders in English language ads are Bass Pro Shop, Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods. There are another 70 or so smaller advertisers with niche spends as well.

But out of these same big advertisers only Amazon is spending with Spanish-language networks, while Bass Pro Shop and Dick’s Sporting Goods spend nothing. Zero. The only other advertiser with a reasonable Spanish-language spend is the Inova Group, which markets the MaxiClimber and MaxiRider.

This makes no business sense at all either pre-pandemic or given our current state. Since the pandemic started, we’ve all been looking for ways to keep ourselves and our kids active and safe. Hispanic households are larger and have more children under the age of 18 living in them. Hispanic households are also younger. So, all of these demographic trends point to a prime opportunity. Not to mention Hispanics’ passion for so many sports like baseball and soccer.

Clearly there are areas of the country -- especially urban areas like Los Angeles -- where Hispanics struggle to find sports fields and open spaces or parkland. But there are so many Hispanics across the country who do have access to these areas for play.

Aside from the sheer money-making opportunity for these advertisers, there is a health disparities story that needs to be told as well. While African Americans have the highest death rate from COVID-19, Hispanics unfortunately are a close second, a trend sparked by underlying issues like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.

Sporting goods companies have the opportunity at this moment to get Hispanics up and moving to help with physical fitness and mental health at this difficult time. Not to mention the abundance of role models and aspirational stories. There are thousands of prominent Hispanic athletes in the most popular sports in the U.S.

These advertisers are really missing the mark.

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