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Hispanic Magazines Gain Ad Dollars


Jorge Cano-Moreno and Rodrigo Salazar grew accustomed to being shown the messengers' door when they arrived at companies to canvas for advertising in their independent magazine, Urban Latino. Once face-to-face with ad executives, the partners heard that "Hispanics don't read. Latinos don't buy," recalls Mr. Cano-Moreno.

That was nine years ago. Now, the bimonthly, which caters to Hispanics in their 20s, carries ads from PepsiCo, Ford Motor's Volvo and Diageo's Johnnie Walker.

Advertising dollars devoted to Hispanic magazines grew 24% in 2003 over 2002, compared with growth of 8.6% for the general market, according to Media Economics Group. Fort Lauderdale, Fla. General Motors poured $7.7 million into ads in Latino magazines in 2003, or 166% more than the previous year. Procter & Gamble, the top advertiser in the Hispanic segment, increased spending last year by one-third, to $11.2 million, relative to 2002.

It's all because of Census Bureau data that showed Hispanics are the largest and fastest-growing minority in the U.S. and that their buying power is surging. The statistics, which were released last year, also are creating a stampede of mainstream and niche publishers into the Hispanic magazine market.

The demographic shift compelled American Media to launch Shape en Español late last year. In coming months, the publisher of the National Enquirer plans to also introduce Men's Fitness in Spanish, as well as publish a Spanish-language women's magazine in conjunction with Mexican ingenue Thalia.

Meredith, the Des Moines, Iowa, publisher of Ladies' Home Journal and Better Homes and Gardens, poached Ruth Gaviria, a top Latina executive, from Time Warner's Time Inc. to oversee a newly created "Hispanic venture" division in January. The company plans to launch parenting, home and personal-finance magazines in Spanish that "connect with Hispanics to the heart," says Ms. Gaviria, who is overseeing the new division. "This market is underserved."

Ms. Gaviria and other publishers are armed with research that indicates more than 60% of Hispanics prefer to use Spanish even if half of them speak English well. They're people like Mexican immigrant Veronica Bravo. The middle-class housewife has lived in Los Angeles for 10 years and is fluent in English. But until getting a subscription to People en Español two years ago, she bought magazines from her home country. "I'm more comfortable in Spanish," says Ms. Bravo, 31 years old.

The granddaddy of this new wave of Hispanic publications is considered Time Warner's People en Español. Its circulation reached 425,000 in 2003, up from 400,000 the previous year. Ad revenue was $29 million, up 21% from 2002. Late last year, People en Español raised its subscription rates to take advantage of the momentum.

As the universe of Spanish-language publications expands, experts say the biggest challenge is to tailor content to entice readers -- and then pull in advertisers. Simply translating English articles into Spanish doesn't work. "We focus on thighs and hips because that's more of a problem area for Hispanic women," says Sami Haiman, advertising director of Shape en Español.

Recent studies have shown that U.S.-born Latinos tend to retain the culture of their heritage more than other immigrant groups. Thus, some publishers are specifically targeting second- and third-generation Latinos, who mix English and Spanish in their daily life and "live in both worlds," says David Perez, chief executive of New York-based Latin Force, a Hispanic consulting firm.

Cutting-edge Spanish-language magazines, such as Miami-based glossy men's lifestyle publication Loft, a unit of Zoom Media Group, and Los Angeles-based alternative independent Latino-music magazine La Banda Elastica, increasingly make concessions to English. Still others, like Urban Latino, and Latina, a woman's magazine, are mainly in English. The circulation of Latina, the second-biggest-selling Hispanic magazine after People en Español, reached 350,000 last year, up 50,000 from 2002. Ad revenue grew 53% to $18 million, and the magazine added Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren and Tiffany to its list of advertisers. Latina is a unit of Latina Media Ventures.

Despite the growth, advertising in Hispanic media represented only 3% of all ad spending in the U.S. last year. "There is still great upside potential," says Carlos Pelay, president of Media Economics Group, which monitors Spanish-language publications.

Posted on aef.com: March 8, 2004

 

Miriam Jordan, Wall Street Journal. March 3, 2004

Copyright © 2004 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.. All rights reserved.