When Unilever was considering options for a new program targeting Hispanics, for example, one fact that leapt out was that they don't get as much direct mail as the general population.
That led to a bilingual magazine, distributed in store and by mail, which is key to ViveMejor, Unilever's multibrand Hispanic marketing platform, said Ivette Alvarez Santoro, senior brand manager-multicultural marketing. "Hispanics do receive less direct mail, which leaves it wide open for someone to leverage that opportunity," she said.
A similar factor led to an unexpected twist five years ago as Procter & Gamble Co. was rolling out its Tremor buzz-marketing program for teens.
Teens into snail mail?
You'd expect any marketing program for teens in the 21st century to be heavy on digital and light on most forms of old media. But P&G found direct mail worked particularly well with teens, said Steve Knox, president of the Tremor unit, which runs programs for both P&G and non-P&G brands. "What we found," he said, "was that teens don't get much mail. So they actually appreciate it when they get it."
As a result, he said, Tremor has made direct-mail product information, offers and samples a cornerstone of its program, though the online component remains substantial as well.
The discoveries of P&G and Unilever are important because teens and Hispanics are attractive markets by any measure, representing the future of the country by virtue of their youth and faster-than-average growth rates.
The Nielsen Co. projects that the Hispanic share of U.S. households will rise steadily from 16.7% in 2005 to 27.9% in 2050, and the proportion of children under 6 who are Hispanic will rise from 21.3% in 2005 to 30.2% in 2050.
Less clutter, more receptivity
Fortunately for marketers, Hispanics -- at least for now -- like advertising much more than the general population and much more than other ethnic groups as well, said Sonia Suarez-Hammond, VP-multicultural marketing insights for Yankelovich. Results of its most recent surveys won't be ready until fall, but three years of research have shown surprising receptivity for advertising among Hispanics because there's less of it, she said.
The Hispanic market is particularly under-marketed to, relative to the rest of the country, in direct and relationship programs, she said. But receptivity to even conventional advertising pitches is higher among Hispanics too. About two-thirds of Hispanics say they enjoy looking at or listening to advertising, compared with about one-third of non-Hispanic whites, she said. And because fewer telemarketers target Hispanics, far fewer than the national average participate in the national do-not-call list, Ms. Suarez-Hammond said.
"That is subject to change," she said, "because a lot of marketers are stepping up to enter this marketplace. Now is the time really to get it right."
Not enough Spanish
Hispanics who speak only Spanish also are significantly undertargeted by online advertising and retail, she said, noting that only about 10% of web content is available in Spanish. That's why Unilever went with not only a bilingual magazine but also a bilingual website, Ms. Santoro said.
As for teens, direct mail may be the only medium where they are more receptive to ads than the general population. Research with Yahoo by Omnicom Group's OMD in 2005 and 2006 found teens were about as receptive to advertising in a range of media as family members overall.
Direct mail, however, wasn't part of the research, said Mike Hess, director-global research and consumer insights for OMD. The saving grace for direct mail, in addition to the relative lack of clutter for teens, may be relevance. Generally teens were more receptive to ads in traditional media, such as TV, than in more personalized media such as mobile devices, where only 9% found ads acceptable.
More heavily bombarded U.S. teens were much less receptive to ads across almost all media than teens in China and India in the OMD research.