Kmart's Latina Smart Gives Voice to 'Blogueras'

Launches Blog Community as Marketers Realize Potential of Reaching Hispanics via Social Media

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Marketers have put lots of effort into building social-media programs around key targets such as moms and youth. Now they're turning their focus on another fast-growing, social-media-savvy segment: the Hispanic-blogger community.

This week Kmart kicks off its Latina Smart platform, built around five blogueras, after a soft launch in late April. Each of the five Latinas writes regular blog posts that run on both the Latina Smart Facebook page and on their own blogs, and engages in other activities such as Twitter parties and photo contests.

"One of the key insights about Latinas is they see themselves as empowered women and that 's what Latina Smart is about," said Mark Snyder, Kmart's chief marketing officer. "We hired five great well-known Latina blogueras that are driving the conversation on the site."

One post, by Latina Smart blogger Carrie Ferguson Weir, is about preserving Latino culture anywhere, including Tennessee, where the Cuban-American runs a bilingual T-shirt business. Her post is also featured on her own Tiki Tiki blog, and invites her readers to "like" the new Kmart Latina Smart Facebook fan page. It ends with the disclosure "This essay is sponsored by the Latina Smart campaign, powered by Kmart. The campaign is about the sharing and exploration of our Latin culture."

Latina Smart's Facebook page.
Latina Smart's Facebook page.

Another Latina Smart blogger, Afro-Latina chef Bren Herrera, blogs at Flanboyant Eats, while fashion and beauty blogger Mercedes Sanchez ponders at whether it's too early in the season to wear white.

One post, an interview with a Dominican high-school senior about to choose a college, is about the new Latino dream: graduating from college.

To further that theme, Mr. Snyder said Kmart may partner with an educational foundation as part of the Latina Smart program. He also envisions taking online the Hispanic celebrities who have product lines at Kmart: actresses Sofia Vergara and Selena Gomez, and former talk show host Cristina Saralegui, who has a home-goods line at Kmart.

"We could take Sofia and Cristina and Selena into Latina Smart through Twitter parties, Facebook and videos," he said.

As a sponsor of People en Espanol's party celebrating its "50 Mas Bellos" ("50 Most Beautiful") issue during the Hispanic upfront this week in New York, Kmart will have a promotional space to help kick off Latina Smart. The Latina Smart program was created by Kmart's agency, DraftFCB.

Hispanics account for 16% of the U.S. population but Mr. Snyder declined to say how many Kmart consumers are Hispanic.

Marketers such as Kmart have been inspired by the second-annual Hispanic PR and Social Media Conference that drew 429 people -- including almost 100 bloggers and multicultural marketing execs from companies such as Ford Motor Co., Walmart, General Motors, PepsiCo, Kraft and Southwest Airlines -- last month in Los Angeles. Manny Ruiz, founder of the event's organizer, Hispanicize, also launched at the conference a Latina mom bloggers' network that is available to marketers.

Mr. Ruiz, who claims to be the only Hispanic dad blogger in the U.S., at year-old PapiBlogger, will embark in July on his second annual all-blogging road trip with his wife and three kids, ages 2, 7 and 11. The first road-trip, covering 12,000 miles in 33 states last summer, was sponsored by McDonald's Corp., Buick, Sprint and Sony. Mr. Ruiz said Chevy will sponsor the PapiMobile again this year, and other sponsors are signing up.

In another sign of growing interest in reaching Hispanics through social media, social-networking site CafeMom hired Hispanic media expert Lucia Ballas-Traynor this month to develop a site for Latina moms. Ms. Ballas-Traynor left her job as publisher of People en Espanol in April.

But use of social media in the Hispanic market still lags the general market. A recent survey by Hispanicize and other Hispanic groups found that 92% of the 202 respondents said they have social-media programs, while only 45% target the Hispanic market through social media.

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