SPANISH MAGAZINES CAPTURE ATTENTION WITH 3 NEW ENTRIES

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With Latina, Newsweek en Espanol and People en Espanol hitting newsstands within the past month, observers are wondering if the U.S. market for Hispanic print is finally ready to kick into high gear.

"It's about time," said Hector Orci, chairman of La Agencia de Orci, Los Angeles, which placed an ad for American Honda Motor Co. in Latina, a bilingual women's service magazine that went on sale last week.

Lured by a booming population and purchasing power that has surged past $200 billion, it seems only a matter of time before Spanish-language print catches up to the more diverse radio and TV offerings for that audience. A similar spate of magazines including Mas, Imagen and La Familia de Hoy appeared in the late '80s, but stumbled in the last recession.

FALSE STARTS

"There have been a lot of false starts, but we think the market is finally here," said Arthur Schiff, publisher of 2-year-old New York-based City Family Magazine, which plans to go national with quarterly La Familia de la Ciudad in September when it doubles its largely controlled distribution to 400,000 and goes every other monthly.

The most ambitious launch to date in the U.S. is Latina, an every other monthly that distributed 300,000 copies to newsstands nationwide last week with 14 ad pages from blue-chip marketers like Revlon, General Motors Corp. and AT&T Corp.

Observers said the new crop of magazines should fuel more spending in Hispanic print. Although ad spending in U.S. Spanish-language media topped $1 billion last year, less than $200 million went to print, according to Hispanic Business.

"From a media perspective, we need more diversified vehicles to be able to reach the segments within the segments," said Tony Dieste, principal with Dieste & Partners, Dallas, which placed an ad for Pepsi Cola inside the back cover of Latina.

TOO BIG TO IGNORE

The new publishers are hoping the sheer size of the market and its projected growth are simply too big for marketers to ignore.

"The [Hispanic] population is growing at four times the rate of the general U.S. population," said Gary Berman, president of Market Segment Research, who estimates the group's 1995 buying power has surged to $240 billion a year. The Hispanic population in the U.S. is expected to jump 14.8% to 31 million by 2000, he estimates.

"The entire Hispanic population in the United States today is larger than Canada. You don't hear publishers saying that they're not sure if Canadians will support print. Then why do they say that when they speak of the Hispanic market in the U.S.?" asked Christy Haubegger, publisher of Latina, a joint venture of Essence Communications and Alegre Enterprises.

Several U.S. media giants appear to agree. Newsweek en Espanol hit newsstands May 22 published under a licensing agreement between the Washington Post Co.'s Newsweek and Miami-based Ideas & Capital. Though the weekly magazine is aimed primarily at a Latin audience residing south of U.S., an estimated 25,000 copies will be distributed in the U.S. The debut issue carried 15 ad pages, including ads for IBM Corp. and Rolex.

Time Inc. said its People en Espanol, which distributed 150,000 copies for an eight-week newsstand test that began May 13, will likely hike frequency next year.

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