Companies Deliver for Hispanic Heritage Month

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Hispanic influence is deeply rooted in American history and culture. Spanish missionaries were the first to bring grapes into California in 1564. The U.S. purchased the Florida peninsula from Spain for $5 million. And it is commonly known that Queen Isabella of Spain financed Christopher Columbus' voyage to America. This ethnic cohort's influence today is even stronger than ever in the United States. Hispanic Americans represented $700 billion in consumer spending last year - nearly 9 percent of the total U.S. disposable personal income ($8.02 trillion), according to the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. What's more, Hispanic American's disposable income grew in 2003 at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5 percent, which outpaces that of the overall U.S. disposable income, which only grew at 2.8 percent CAGR last year. So it's fitting that organizations across the U.S. are helping Hispanics celebrate Spanish Heritage Month, which kicked off last week (September 15th), by providing more products and services catering to this fast-growing ethnic cohort.

Last week, the

New York Daily News

joined the gaggle of news publishers targeting the Spanish market with a Spanish-language weekly newspaper of its own. The newspaper is called

Hora Hispana

and will distribute to 200,000 households in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. "By launching

Hora Hispana,

we are extending our reach beyond our current reader to one who has been eagerly looking for a serious Spanish-language newspaper," Les Goodstein, president and chief operating officer of the

Daily News,

told the Associated Press. "For our advertisers,

Hora Hispana

will give them their first opportunity to reach a critical mass of their important Spanish-speaking market."

Other industry heavyweights are also set to target the Hispanic mercado (market). According to a recent

Chicago Tribune

article, Hershey Foods Corp. this fall will unveil a line of sweets specifically for Hispanics, which will include a white chocolate Kiss filled with dulce de leche, or caramel. The company will also introduce white and milk chocolate Hershey Miniatures with bits of cookies inside as well as a spicy and fruit-flavored Jolly Rancher lollipop. Currently, its Jolly Rancher brand is one of the more popular candies among Hispanic consumers.

Last month, America Online launched a campaign directly targeting Hispanics, offering bilingual service with a low-cost computer. The PCs are available at Office Depot stores for $299.99 with a 12-month commitment to AOL's dial-up service at $23.90 per month. This move will likely bode well for the Internet giant, as industry pundits expect Hispanics to flock to the Web in short order.

According to an eMarketer report released earlier this year, Hispanics online are expected to nearly double from 8.7 million in 2000 to 16 million in 2007. Facilitating these efforts are the growing popularity of Spanish Web sites such as AOL Latino, Yahoo en Espanol, Terra and Univision. Already 34, percent of all Hispanics in the U.S. have an Internet account, according to marketing services and consulting firm Yankelovich Partners. And this number is rapidly growing. "Hispanics are very much the trend setters. They view themselves as innovators, the cool people," explains Cathy Von Fange, a partner at Yankelovich. "The Internet is certainly a vehicle for disseminating that information so it won't be long before they take [the Internet] over." Earlier this year, Yankelovich released a multicultural marketing study to identify the three sub-categories developing among Hispanics -- all determined by their cultural attachment. For more information on this report, go to the Yankelovich Web site.

Not to be outdone, Chain Store Guide, a market research consultancy for the retail and foodservice industry, will next week unveil its more than 600-page called "The Top 50 Hispanic Markets Report: Your Retail & Foodservice Guide to Hispanic Marketing," which includes a breakout of Hispanics by country of origin. "Companies in general are being very creative. They're realizing they have to provide what this population is looking for. They're looking for quality goods, good prices and products that come from their country of origin," says Deborah Scruggs, product development manager at Chain Store Guide and author of the report. For more information on the report, visit Chain Store Guide's Web site.

Clearly, the indelible marks that Hispanics have already made on American history and culture would make Queen Isabella proud.

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