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A wave of in-depth research should help quash the common complaint among marketers targeting U.S. Hispanics concerning the lack of quality data.

Yankelovich Partners and Gale Research Publishing recently released surveys of the domestic Hispanic market, as have several other researchers.

In the past, marketers-using existing census data, piecemeal research and guesstimates-in many instances have ventured into the market with limited information, said Isabel Valdes, president of Los Altos, Calif.-based Hispanic Marketing Connection and author of a recent book on the Hispanic market.

"It's a joke because everybody has survived by the little reports that have been put together," she said.

The latest pair of studies follows at least four reports issued in the past six months on U.S. and Latin American markets.

Bill Livek, president of Symmetrical Resources, a Deerfield Beach, Fla., market research company, said there were three "flash points" for the sudden research rise:

The advertising recession of the late 1980s made advertisers focus their spending more acutely.

The 1990 U.S. Census found that the Hispanic population rose 50% from 10 years earlier, to 21.9 million. A 1994 population of 25.5 million U.S. Hispanics spent about $206 billion and represents the nation's fastest-growing minority, according to Strategy Research Corp., Miami.

Univision Network's and Telemundo Group's investments in the Nielsen Hispanic Television Index Service "made a statement to the research community that dollars will be invested to articulate what the marketplace is in fact doing," Mr. Livek said.

The importance of the Hispanic community isn't lost on marketers. Twenty-up from a dozen two years ago and half that in 1988-sponsored Yankelovich's 1995 Hispanic Monitor. Strategy Research's second edition of its U.S. Hispanic Market Study in 1982 had few sponsors; last year's book listed 37.

"People are finally starting to take notice, and based on that, there are more people out there offering research to these clients," said Camilla Sammartino, senior associate and project director with Yankelovich, Norwalk, Conn.

Some of the recent research includes:

Market Development, San Diego, and Yankelovich's Hispanic Monitor. This two-volume, biennial report samples 2,000 self-identified Hispanics in the nation's seven top Hispanic markets-Los Angeles, New York, Miami, San Francisco/San Jose, Chicago, Houston and San Antonio. The report offers demographics, values and attitudes, marketplace behavior, shopping preferences, and brand and category identification.

Gale Research Publishing, Detroit, and Hispanic Market Connections, Los Altos, Calif., recently released the first Hispanic Market Handbook, a 500-page volume that covers topics ranging from market indicators and regionalization to spending habits and managing cultural diversity. Future issues will come out every three years.

Strategy Research in February released the first edition of Latin American Market Planning Handbook, a survey of 37 leading markets in 10 South American countries. This followed the success of its seventh biennial U.S. Hispanic Market Study in 1994, which tracks spending and habits of Hispanics in the top 50 U.S. Hispanic markets.

Simmons Market Research, New York, released its first Hispanic Study in February. The company sampled 10,290 Hispanics in the top seven markets and studied 400 products and 200 brands.

Audits & Surveys, New York, released in January the Media Markets of Latin America planning survey. Commissioned by 29 marketers, cable networks and ad agencies that comprise the Latin American Cable TV Association of Programmers, the survey tracked household demographic, media and spending habits throughout Latin America.

Market Segment Research, Coral Gables, Fla., this fall will release its annual U.S. Ethnic Market Report, along with its first Survey of the Americas this year. The study will track demographics and behavior of 11,000 Latin Americans.

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