"In our perspective, now clients have permission to target the Hispanic market. In the pioneering days of Hispanic advertising, a lot was sold on instinct and gut," says Daisy Exposito, president, Young & Rubicam's Bravo Group, New York.
Nielsen Media Research, which now measures Hispanic network and 14 spot markets, has been active in the field since 1989.
"We have Simmons data and Yankelovich data," says Ms. Exposito. "Many retailers and manufacturers with local sales forces have the benefit of additional sales feedback. A retailer such as Sears, [Roebuck & Co.] has intimate knowledge of the consumer profile at the local store level. This of course gives them that understanding of the benefits of Hispanic programs."
The lack of similar research has been a definite hindrance for advertisers anxious to find their way to the Asian-American market.
"We studied how the Hispanic market grew. One of the milestones that gave the growth was the formation of huge media companies like Telemundo or Univision. They funded the research for measuring the media and pulled the Hispanic market in line with what the general market would like to see," says Eliot Kang, president of Kang & Lee Advertising, New York.
Mr. Kang has watched his Asian-American specialty agency grow to about $33 million in annual billings in 12 years.
"It's phenomenal. The first three or four years was a struggle because no one listened," says Mr. Kang.
As far as the African-American market is concerned, even though the segment was carved out in the early 1960s, many agency executives are dissatisfied with advertisers' continued inability to understand the potential of the market. Part of the problem is lack of research on the market.
"The African-American market is one of the largest segments," says Al Anderson, CEO of Anderson Communications, Atlanta, but advertisers have a tendancy to view the African-American population as an assimilated population in "the great melting pot."
"We [prefer] to say that America is a salad bowl. But, when you put a tomato in the salad, it's still a tomato. About 55% of all pine-cleaning [products] sales goes to African-Americans. That's a big number," says Mr. Anderson.
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He uses the example of a national brand with 70% of its sales coming from the African-American market -- with no African-American targeted marketing.
"If I had a significant part of my business tied up in this audience, I would want to close my back door to keep someone else from coming in. Nobody has an exclusive," says Mr. Anderson.
Mr. Anderson also says he thinks advertisers need to look more closely at their media placement efforts.
"I'm looking at PC. It's most recent issue was 510 pages. Ebony and Essence are both upscale. They don't have that quantity of ad pages. Again, it goes back to