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A current direct mail campaign from Sprint Corp., targeted to the Hispanic market, prominently features artwork from three Hispanic artists.

The package, from DraftDirect Worldwide, Chicago, is seen as a strategic way to convey respect for what Hispanics have contributed culturally-and shows how market-ers are improving their direct mail executions for Hispanics.

Direct marketing is increasingly becoming an effective way to reach the lucrative, $228 billion Hispanic market.


Hispanic consumers find direct mail appealing for several reasons.

Hispanic households receive about 35 pieces of direct mail yearly, compared to 350 for non-Hispanic households, and less volume in the mailbox can translate into better response rates.

In addition, Hispanics are turning to direct marketing thanks in part to unpleasant shopping experiences, according to a recent study.

A survey of 750 Hispanics conducted by DraftDirect found that about 49% of respondents said they are not treated with respect in stores, and 41% said they buy direct because it's less threatening than in-person shopping.

The survey also found that about 94% of the respondents said they receive direct mail and 66% said they always open and read it, says Cristina Benitez Turner, senior VP-director of Hispanic marketing, DraftDirect.


Marketers, meanwhile, are increasing their usage of direct mail because of improvements in lists and executions.

In 1990, there were few lists of U.S. Hispanics; today there are hundreds of lists that reach more than 6 million of the estimated 7 million U.S. Hispanic households, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

"There are high quality and better maintained lists. Language preference is such an issue," says Abbe Alpaugh, circulation manager, Reader's Digest Latinoamerica.

Although lists using Hispanic surnames to identify a Hispanic household are frequently used, they're not always efficient. Name-based lists may contain third- or fourth-generation Hispanics who don't speak Spanish or Anglo women who have married Hispanic men.

"If lists just have a surname, it is often not enough [information]. If they add information to that surname, be it a ZIP Code that is 90% urban, that additional information strengthens it," says Beatriz Mallory, president of HispanAmerica Response Marketing, Hoboken, N.J., and one of the founders of Directo, the DMA council for Hispanic marketing.

Despite the marketer interest in lists of Spanish-speaking consumers, many packages sent to Hispanics are in English only. Some 66% of the direct mail recipients said they prefer to receive information in Spanish, and yet, two-thirds of direct mail is English-only, Ms. Benitez Turner says.

Yet there's been an increase in the number of lists that identify consumers who have responded to Spanish-language promotions.

"To identify people who have the ability to use Spanish in a direct mail environment is huge for us. Our product is 100% Spanish, so I need to reach people who compete in the direct mail environment in Spanish," Ms. Alpaugh adds.


But because members of an Hispanic household have different levels of comfort using English and Spanish, observers say marketers should mail a bilingual package.

"Most of our clients mail bilingually and then someone in the family will understand the terms and conditions of the offer. Buying decisions are made in a familial way. Mailing bilingually makes a direct mail piece bigger, but it can be done at incremental expense," Ms. Mallory says.

Marketers can also convey respect in direct mail pieces by featuring Hispanic talent and models and photography that is culturally relevant; placing an emphasis on family in the communication; and using Hispanic colors.

The Hispanic palette is bright, with tropical colors-reds, yellows, greens-that feel more comfortable to them, Ms. Benitez Turner says.

"[Marketers should] convey respect in their attitude and tone, and say, we value you, you are important to us, we appreciate you," she says.

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