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When DraftDirect Worldwide, Chicago, received a 60% response to a recent survey of the domestic Hispanic market, executives knew they were on to something.

Traditionally characterized as lukewarm to direct marketing efforts, the majority of respondents to the August effort expressed enthusiasm regarding direct mail. The survey-mailed to 1,700 Hispanic households across the U.S. who had been targeted by direct mail marketers in the past-netted 975 replies. Of the 94% of respondents who said they receive direct mail communication, 66% always open and read the literature. And 44% of those place orders.

Also impressive was the fact that 49% of respondents noted that they are not treated with respect in traditional, in-person shopping environments, and another 41% indicated that they purchase through direct marketing to avoid the "threatening" experience of the retail scene.

That opens the door for direct marketers, said Cristina Benitez Turner, senior VP-director, Hispanic marketing with DraftDirect. "Retailers aren't interested in spending a little time finding out what our needs are," said Ms. Benitez Turner, who released the study at the Direct Marketing Association annual conference in Dallas last week.

The survey, conducted with Simmons Market Research Bureau, was divided into three categories: Direct response TV, telemarketing and direct mail. It covered attitudes and behaviors of the Hispanic market, which receives on average 35 pieces of direct mail a year, compared with 300 for general market households. The margin of error was 4 percentage points.

As further evidence of the Hispanic audience's receptivity, 50% of respondents said they don't mind receiving telephone calls at home. Yet, only 21% said they receive calls in Spanish.

Typically, direct mail targeting Hispanics has simply translated copy from English into Spanish. Most marketers who use print or TV create whole new ads in Spanish, because they've learned that this audience may be confused by simple translations. Forty percent of those who replied to the DraftDirect survey said they prefer direct response TV that's produced in Spanish.

When used properly, Spanish-language direct marketing efforts validate Hispanic consumers' desires for respect from marketers, something Ms. Benitez Turner called a "deep, passionate, intrinsic part of the Hispanic persona."

Laura Loro contributed to this story.

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