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Niche trade titles talk the talk

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Seeing an opportunity to take advantage of occupational and demographic changes, some b-to-b media companies are producing niche foreign-language publications for the U.S. market.

The latest entry into the field: Bobit Business Media's VietSALON. The publication, aimed at the growing number of U.S. nail salons operated by Vietnamese immigrants, was introduced in February as a quarterly with plans to go bimonthly in 2007. The initial circulation is 30,000, with a 50/50 ad-to-edit ratio.

While there are tough challenges in producing foreign-language trade titles-including the installation of new software to translate text and hiring full-time editors fluent in the language and the culture of target subscribers-publishers may soon find it difficult to ignore demographic changes within their markets.

"For years we've seen heavy growth among nail technicians within the Vietnamese population," said Ty Bobit, chairman-CEO of Bobit Business Media. "A lot of the workers speak English but are language-challenged, so there are a substantial number of nail technicians who could use the information we provide." Editorial features in VietSALON include articles on how to sanitize nail salons, how to write a service menu and the latest trends in nail art designs.

`Filling a major void'

"About 50% to 60% of all nail workers in California are Vietnamese, and as goes California the rest of the country will follow," said Tony Cuccio, president-CEO of Star Nail International, the largest manufacturer of nail systems worldwide, with $20 million a year in sales. Star Nail is on VietSALON's ad schedule for all four issues this year, Cuccio said. "The magazine is filling a major void and following the shift in the market," he said.

European Touch, which sells pedicure products, is running full-page ads in all of VietSALON's issues this year. "We've had a handful of direct, qualified leads from our ads, and we hope the number increases as time goes on," said Rebecca Reed, marketing communications manager at European Touch. "A publication like this will definitely increase its circulation because, over time, it's going to become a necessity."

VietSALON is part of what b-to-b media executives expect to be a growing list of foreign-language trade titles published in the U.S.

"As b-to-b publishers get a handle that there's a real shift in U.S. demographics, you'll see more of these types of publications," said Mark Taussig, publisher of Hanley Wood's El Nuevo Constructor (35,000 circ.), which was launched in 2002 and targets Hispanics in residential construction markets. The magazine is running seven times this year, with plans for eight issues in 2007.

The rate of growth among Hispanic-owned businesses was 31% between 1997 and 2002, the last year for which figures were available, compared with the national average of 10%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Revenue generated by Hispanic-owned businesses rose 19% between 1997 and 2002.

Julie Lehto, Hispanic account representative for James Hardie Building Products, a provider of fiber cement building materials, suggested to her marketing managers that the company advertise in El Nuevo Constructor after she paid a sales call earlier this year to a local construction company and noticed the publication in the president's office.

Passionate and passing it on

"He was very passionate about it and told me that, after he reads it, he passes the issue along to his workers," Lehto said. So far, James Hardie has advertised in four issues of El Nuevo Constructor, and Lehto would like to see the company get on the publication's ad schedule long term. "It would be a lot more effective that way," she said.

Other advertisers in El Nuevo Constructor include Georgia-Pacific Corp., Home Depot, Lowe's and Makita Power Tools.

Monica Morales, strategic business development manager for Georgia-Pacific, noted El Nuevo Constructor is geared toward business decision-makers. "It's been a great vehicle for us and has allowed us to establish relationships with Hispanic construction companies," she said. M

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