Retailers up the ante

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panish-language retail ad spending may be on the rise, but mass marketers have their work cut out for them.

Since its last report three years ago, Yankelovich contends an increasing number of Hispanics say shopping is a frustrating and time-consuming experience, says Olivia Llamas, project director of Yankelovich Partners' Hispanic Monitor report.

"Their satisfaction is going down," says Ms. Llamas. "The time pressures all consumers feel is reaching these consumers as well."

About 65% of Hispanics consider themselves Spanish dominant and prefer to speak the language when shopping. They often patronize local bodegas that remind them of home.

"Retailers are looking at the size and spending power and realize it's a considerable part of the marketplace," says Ms. Llamas.

According to Univision Communications, "the retail category has grown dramatically and consistently since Univision's first upfront [selling season] in 1997. This year the category is up 35%, and it is virtually up three-fold from three years ago." The network declined to comment on specific spending figures.

After the recent TV upfront, Steve Levin, exec VP for Telemundo Network Group, has seen 25% growth over the last two years. Currently, he says the total retail category spends $22 million on his network with Sears, Roebuck & Co., the top spender, followed by Kmart Corp., J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart Stores. Total retail spending for Hispanic network TV is about $110 million, according to industry executives.

Kmart beefed up its ad spending 70% on Spanish-language TV, according Competitive Media Reporting. Kmart, among the top 50 Hispanic advertisers, spent $13.4 million in 1999 on Univision and Telemundo, compared with $7.9 million in '98. Univision got the lion's share of the spending last year, nearly $11 million.

"We are looking to be culturally relevant," says Debbie Musselman, director of multicultural advertising and marketing for Kmart. Kmart, and other retailers, are tailoring their merchandising mix to reflect the local consumer base. At Kmart, shoppers find deeper pots and tortilla warmers. Clothing sizes in the chain tend toward petites and clothing color tends to the darker side of the spectrum to blend with skin tone.

Kmart relies on bilingual direct-mail advertising with detailed product descriptions to generate store traffic.

Advertising is tagged, "Aqui esta lo que tu quieres," ("What you want is here"). Castor Advertising Corp., New York, handles Kmart's Hispanic advertising.

Penney wants to be perceived as a soft-goods marketer of choice among Hispanics, says Victoria Varela Hudson, president and director of strategic planning at Cartel Creativo, San Antonio. Cartel is Penney's Hispanic agency.

"We are targeting the consumer who wants to fit into mainstream society, not the consumer who stands out from it. We want the customer who wants to fit into the aspirational American dream," says Ms. Hudson.

Penney had relied on "Te queda bien" ("J.C. Penney fits you well") as its Latino theme for four years until the slogan was retired earlier this year. The expression had multiple meanings, says Ms. Hudson, adding that the message is meant to convey a reciprocal relationship: Penney treats its customers with respect and cares what its customers think about the chain.

The retailer is expected to develop a new Hispanic market theme in conjunction with a revamp of its general advertising campaign according to Ms. Hudson. DDB Worldwide, Dallas and Chicago, earlier this year won the $200 million-plus general market account from Temerlin McClain, Irving, Texas.

Penney also reaches an undisclosed number of customers through its catalog which includes a toll-free service staffed by Spanish-speaking operators.

Sears has designated 170 of its 860 stores for the Hispanic market by altering its product mix to appeal to the consumers in the local markets. To draw shoppers it has been using the theme, "Toda para ti," ("Everything for you") since 1994.

It spent $50 million on commercial time for Spanish-language TV, according to CMR; nearly $30 million went to Univision.

Sears also reached out to its Hispanic shoppers on general market TV recently when it aired a 30-second Spanish-language commercial during CBS's "1st Annual Latin Grammy Awards." The ads were for its private label clothing, Apostrophe. The spot ran with English subtitles.

"This commercial is on the cutting edge and reflects how Sears is trying to target a multicultural audience," says Gilbert Davila, VP-multicultural and relationship marketing for Sears, adding this is the third time Sears is running a Spanish-language commercial on network TV.

In addition to its "Grammy" sponsorship, this year the retailer is sponsoring a 35-city Christina Aguilara concert tour.

Sears publishes Nuestra Gente ("Our People"). The title was launched as a direct mail piece in 1993 but has grown into a quarterly publication with a circulation of 800,000, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. People en Espanol, for example, has a circulation of about 300,000, according to ABC.

Nuestra sells space to non-competitive advertisers including Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and Procter & Gamble Co. Content includes informational articles and a column by Bob Vila, the home renovation guru.

"It fills an informational void," says Joseph Arellano, senior VP at Sears' agency, Mendoza, Dillon & Asociados, Dallas.

Sears also plans to launch a Web site for the holiday season. Customers will be able to apply for credit online in Spanish.

Hector Orci, co-chairman of La Agencia de Orci & Asociados, Los Angeles, believes retailers could put more effort into their Hispanic marketing.

"Stores like Wal-Mart [Stores] and Target [Stores] proceed in my view with limited attempts to test the Latino market potential. There's a huge discrepancy between the amount of talk and the resources they apply to attracting the Latino consumer," he says.

Wal-Mart is "a dedicated 52-week a year network advertiser," says Alex Lopez Negrete, president-CEO of Lopez Negrete Communications, Houston. Lopez Negrete handles Wal-Mart's Hispanic advertising.

A Target spokeswoman defends the chain's efforts to reach the Hispanic market, noting it piloted a Hispanic-oriented program at a store in Commerce, Calif. Since the initial effort, 250 of 900 Target stores feature Hispanic books, movies, greeting cards, an expanded children's shoe area, a sizing initiative and specialties that appeal to the market in Target's Food Avenue.

"We have made a major commitment to the Hispanic community and other persons of color," the spokeswoman says. "We are trying to do the right thing for our guests in those communities."

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