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Spanish-language media does the trick for reaching Hispanic adults, but for Hispanic youth, you can't make any assumptions.

Marketers will have to set aside bigger budgets to develop ads that speak to Hispanic youth.

When Spanish-language cable station Galavisión launched two weekday prime-time blocks of bilingual programs last spring, the move provoked some controversy. Galavisión's parent company, Univisión, the Spanish-language broadcast network targeted at Hispanic adults, is renowned for its strict ban on English-language programming and advertising messages. When the new shows initially aired, several long-time viewers called in to express their discontent. But as a cable station, Galavisión had the freedom to reach out to what it perceived to be a growing yet ignored niche: bilingual and bicultural Hispanic youth.

Hispanics under the age of 18 constitute one of the largest and most complex demographics in the nation. Unlike their parents and grandparents, who felt compelled to, at least publicly, melt into the American pot, this generation of consumers — representing 35 percent of all Hispanics — wants the best of both worlds. As a result, the Spanish-only media channels that keep their parents entertained and informed are not always enough, and marketing to them in their own language no longer means simply translating general market strategies into Español. More culturally relevant media vehicles and advertising messages, better media planning, and bigger budgets are a must for any marketer trying to build brand loyalty with tomorrow's “mainstream� consumers, as those consumers are and will increasingly be of Hispanic origin.

By 2005, Hispanic youth will overtake blacks to become the largest ethnic youth population, accounting for 17 percent of all those under age 18, and 45 percent of all minority minors in the U.S. This segment is helping to fuel the growth of the entire youth market: By the end of the decade, 1 kid in 5 will be Hispanic, amounting to a 22 percent increase in nine years, while during the same period, the proportion of white youth will experience a decrease of 5 percent. In fact, in several top urban markets — breeding grounds for consumer trends — Hispanic kids and teens already constitute the majority: 58 percent of the under-20 crowd in Los Angeles are Hispanic, and their share is expected to reach 80 percent by 2003.

While all kids and teens today are hard to reach, with the ever-growing assortment of media channels at their disposal, Hispanic youth are even more difficult to target. Unlike their non-Hispanic counterparts, more than three-quarters of them are bilingual, and thus they have another set of media to consume — the Spanish-language media. “When you talk about targeting today's youth, there's all this talk about marketing to their individuality,� says Daisy Exposito, president of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA) and of The Bravo Group, Young & Rubicam's Hispanic shop. “For young Latinos, their bilingualism is a huge part of their individuality.�

One of the biggest misperceptions about U.S. Hispanic teens, says Olivia Llamas, project director of the Yankelovich Hispanic MONITOR, is that they will eventually be completely assimilated into American culture, in language, social habits, and media consumption, and become indistinguishable from their general market counterparts. In fact, a look at the top five English-language TV programs and magazines for Hispanic teens (aged 12 to 17) and kids (aged 6 to 11) matched against their white counterparts reveals little differentiation. In any given week, for instance, the No. 1 show for both Hispanic and white teens is The Simpsons, capturing 41 percent and 31 percent respectively, according to Simmons Market Research. Similarly, the No. 1 magazine perused by Hispanic and white kids is Nickelodeon magazine, capturing 23 percent and 20 percent of each group. These comparisons can be misleading, however. “Marketers think that eventually they will only need to advertise in English in order to reach U.S. Hispanic youth,� says Llamas. “But what we are finding is the opposite, they're not losing that language or culture.�

On the contrary, they are increasingly embracing it. Fifty-four percent of U.S. Hispanic teens identify themselves as “Hispanic Only� or “More Hispanic than American.� Another 36 percent perceive themselves as being equally grounded in both cultures, according to TNS Market Development. Only 6 percent consider themselves “more American than Hispanic,� and just 4 percent say they are “American only.�

While their elders are still much more likely to prefer Spanish to English in all aspects of their lives, including media consumption, there has been a significant jump in Spanish-language preference among Hispanic youth in recent years. Twenty-nine percent of 16- to 24-year-olds say they prefer Spanish, up from 23 percent in 1997, according to the MONITOR. And even though 45 percent of this group prefers English, 65 percent still watch Spanish-language TV — for an average of 1.7 hours per day — and 59 percent listen to Spanish-language radio.

So while reaching the adult Hispanic population is a no-brainer — an ad on Univisión or Telemundo usually does the trick — reaching today's Hispanic youth can cause some serious headaches. “For the 18- to 49-year-old Hispanic group, we go directly to Spanish-language media,� says Graziella Flathers, media planning supervisor at Hispanic ad agency Bromley Communications, in San Antonio. “But when targeting Hispanic youth, you can't make any assumptions.�

Flathers had her work cut out for her last spring when she began to develop the Hispanic youth media plan for her client, The American Legacy Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based organization established to reduce smoking as part of the 1998 settlement against major tobacco companies. By conducting extensive research and analysis of ratings data for individual programs, she found that WWF Smackdown, in English, on UPN, delivered a huge chunk of their target audience. The show reaches about 35 percent of all Hispanic teens in any given week, according to Simmons. Flathers also found that in many of the top 10 markets, the three most popular radio stations for Hispanic teen delivery were in English. And yet, according to a recent analysis by Starcom Worldwide, 9 of the top 15 rated shows among Hispanic teens are on Univisión, and thus Spanish TV also needed to be included. “For an advertiser to be effective with today's Hispanic youth market, he needs to be everywhere they are, and with a message that is relevant to them, both in Spanish and in English,� says Monica Gadsby, senior vice president and director of Hispanic media for Starcom. Advertisers targeting the general youth market should also take note: The inclusion of Spanish-language TV in teen-targeted schedules will not only optimize delivery of Hispanic teens, but will increase a plan's total teen-market reach by as much as 4 to 5 percentage points, according to Starcom's analysis.

We are the World

Ethnic kids and teens are fueling growth in the youth market.

(UNDER AGE 18) 2001 2010 2020 2030 % CHANGE

Total Youth 71.0 mil 72.5 mil 77.6 mil 83.4 mil +18%
Hispanic* 11.3 (16%) 13.7 (19%) 17.2 (22%) 21.0 (25%) +85%
Non-Hispanic White 45.2 (64%) 42.7 (59%) 42.4 (55%) 42.3 (51%) -6%
Non-Hispanic Black 10.7 (15%) 11.3 (16%) 12.2 (16%) 13.2 (16%) +24%
Asian/Pacific Islander 3.2 (5%) 4.0 (6%) 5.0 (7%) 6.1 (7%) +94%
Other Non-Hispanic 0.7 (1%) 0.7 (1%) 0.8 (1%) 0.9 (1%) +27%
(in millions, % of total youth) Percentages may not equal 100 due to rounding.
*Hispanics can be of any race
Source: U.S. Census Bureau; calculations by American Demographics

Read All About It

Hispanic teens are 120 percent more likely than the average U.S. teen to peruse Shape magazine.


Shape 220 Thrasher 145
InStyle 161 Totally Fox Kids 134
Beckett Sports Collectibles 153 Child Life 132
Jump 149 Children's Playmate 118
GamePro 134 Disney Adventures 114
*An index of 100 is the national average.
Source: Simmons Market Research, Spring 2000

Media planning and buying may start to get a little easier, thanks to a slew of new media vehicles aimed at reaching this group. In addition to Galavisión's bilingual programming efforts, the past year was filled with English-language cable stations launching new youth-oriented shows with Hispanic themes and characters. In February, the FOX Kids Network premiered Los Luchadores, a kids' adventure series that has characters such as Lobo Fuerte and an eyepatch-wearing villain Chihuahua. Nickelodeon also launched three new programs this season: The Brothers Garcia, Dora the Explorer, and Taina, all of which feature Hispanic kids as main characters. And SíTV, an English-language, 24-hour cable network devoted to Latino-themed programming, is expected to launch this fall. While Bromley's Flathers is still taking a wait-and-see attitude toward SíTV, she has high hopes. “It's not something I would jump into headfirst, but I'm anxious to see what happens,� she says. “Whenever there are new opportunities to reach this youth market, we're all on the edge of our seats. The options today are very limited.�

In addition to new program content, major TV networks are giving marketers options in the form of more flexible advertising policies. Last September, for what is thought to be the first time ever, CBS accepted Spanish and bilingual ads during their prime-time broadcast of the Latin Grammy Awards. Adding fuel to the trend, in January, Nickelodeon became the first major English-language cable network to accept bilingual advertising during regular programming. Chuck E. Cheese's, the child-oriented pizza and entertainment chain, owned by CEC Entertainment, was the first advertiser to bite. But considering that the network attracts 66 percent of all Hispanic children aged 2 to 11 each month, or about 4 million, others are expected to follow.

That is, of course, if they can afford it. The out-of-pocket costs for English-language media tend to be about 10 times more than for Spanish-language media, so buying it on a traditional Hispanic marketing budget (which is often pennies compared with general market dollars) may be a problem for some companies. “Just to buy English local radio in the top 10 markets could eat up Hispanic dollars for a year,� says Flathers. And since reaching the segment and getting through to them are two different things, more production money will be needed to develop relevant creative that speaks to them, regardless of language.

Unlike prior generations, messages targeted to today's Hispanic teens do not have to be in Spanish to be understood. But marketers who use the language in their ad messages may reach them on a more emotional level. The California Wellness Foundation's “Get Real About Teen Pregnancy� print campaign series, called “The Word,� did just that. Each execution featured one Spanish word, in bold, at the top of each ad, for instance: “Educación,� “Salud,� “Futuro,� while the rest of the text, explaining the problem of teen pregnancy, was in English. “We know that most of these teens, and the policymakers we're trying to target, speak English, but we wanted to do something to connect to their roots and grab their attention,� says Dawn Wilcox, public education director for the campaign and vice president of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.

But speaking their language isn't necessarily about language at all, it's about being “in-culture,� a term coined by Hispanic marketing strategist Isabel Valdés, co-chair and partner of Santiago & Valdés Solutions, in Newport Beach, California. Valdés identifies core values among Hispanic youth that set them apart from their general market counterparts, such as Familismo, or a strong family orientation, which influences how they use and respond to media. For instance, Hispanic teens are more likely to watch television with their parents than non-Hispanic teens “at least some of the time� (46 percent vs. 35 percent) and “most of the time� (18 percent vs. 12 percent), according to Starcom Worldwide's Kidscope study. And 50 percent of Hispanic teen girls and 27 percent of teen boys say they admire their mother more than anyone else in their lives, according to TNS Market Development.

Latin America

From 1998 to 2003, the fastest-growing Hispanic youth population will be in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where the share of Hispanic kids and teens will increase 21 percent.


1998 2003 % CHANGE
Los Angeles 2.48 2.78 12%
New York 1.18 1.33 12%
Chicago 0.48 0.55 13%
San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose 0.47 0.52 12%
Houston 0.44 0.52 18%
Miami 0.36 0.43 19%
San Antonio 0.31 0.36 15%
Dallas-Fort Worth 0.31 0.37 21%
San Diego 0.28 0.32 13%
El Paso 0.21 0.25 16%
Source: TGE Demographics, 1998; Marketing to American Latinos by M. Isabel Valdés

A Family Affair

Hispanic teens tend to watch Spanish television with their parents and English television with their siblings or friends.


Mom or dad 62% 21%
Brothers or sisters 23% 64%
Other adults in the home 11% 2%
Friends 9% 17%
Source: Starcom Worldwide's Kidscope Study

Being “in-culture� with today's youth is something with which most marketers and traditional Hispanic ad agencies have little experience. That's why Roberto Ramos launched Ruido Group, a Hispanic-youth-focused communications agency in New York City, last fall. Ramos' first project, a bilingual TV, print, and radio effort for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, will launch in September. It will attempt to tap into kids' sense of Familismo, not to mention good old-fashioned guilt. The theme: If you do drugs, you're letting down your immediate family and friends.

In addition to promoting core Hispanic values in their marketing, Ramos also stresses that businesses need to pay more attention to the nuances that separate youth from different countries, and capture those cultural, religious, and idiomatic differences in their messages when targeting specific geographic locales. Fifty-four percent of Hispanics in the MONITOR, for example, say they feel there are some important differences between themselves and other Hispanic groups. “For many clients, knowing about these differences is not necessarily to guide them in targeting, but in trying to avoid mistakes,� says the MONITOR's Llamas. Marketers who want to use soccer in all their Hispanic-targeted advertising, for example, need to wake up. “Soccer may work for some, but on the East Coast, most Hispanics are from the Dominican Republic and Cuba, where baseball is king.�

As Hispanic youth become a bigger portion of the American pie, the group will need to be sliced in ways that better resemble the segmentation of the general market, in which ads are targeted more to interests, lifestyles, and attitudes. Indeed, experts expect that the overall diversity of America's youth — already 36 percent of all children are of a race or ethnicity other than white — will force market segments not only within the Hispanic, black, Asian, and other ethnic communities, but across them. The use of “attitude� or “psychographic� research to define those new boundaries will take on a larger role in market research, creative execution, and media buys in the future, experts say.

“Hispanics, and other ethnic kids, have multiple categories for themselves,� says Ben Gervey, a psychologist and a director at Applied Research & Consulting in New York City, which conducts attitudinal research. “They may consider their Hispanic heritage as being more or less central to their identity, but it is not their only identity, and they shouldn't be marketed to as if it is.�

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