February 29, 2008
By MAURA POSSLEY
Understanding what makes a consumer tick is the key to a good advertisement, but companies often don't have a clue when it comes to the nation's fastest growing minority market.
To give businesses knowledge about the Hispanic market, the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agen- cies has launched a Latino Cultural Identity Study.
The study aims to dig deep into what drives Hispanic consumers, helping businesses effectively reach that segment of the marketplace, said Jose Lopez-Varela, chair-elect of the Virginia-based organ- ization.
"In the past, it's all sort of been defined by language," said Lopez-Varela, chief executive officer of the Coral Gables advertising company ADN Communications. "Language is just one aspect of being a Latino."
A 2005 study by the association of the nation's top advertisers found that while spending on Hispanic print and television advertising grew 4.7 percent from 2003 to 2004, the amount allocated for Hispanic media compared to total advertising budgets dropped nearly 1 percent for that same period.
On the Gulf Coast, businesses have reacted to the growing market but have yet fully invested in Spanish-language media or English advertising targeted at Hispanic consumers, said Pedro Perez, of the Sarasota-based Nuevo Advertising.
"Everybody is dabbling in it but no one is doing it well," he said. "They're looking for guidance."
The study will look at four pillars that the association said defines cultural identity: interpersonal orientation, time and space perception, spirituality and gender perception.
The project begins with focus groups to allow "a Latino to decide what makes a Latino," Lopez-Varela said.
The study seeks to present a uniform look at the Hispanic market and advertising industry, according to the association.
But distinguishing differences between the Spanish-speaking countries is necessary, said Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder, president of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of Sarasota-Manatee counties.
"They cannot market the same to Puerto Ricans as they would to Mexicans," she said. "We are a great source of purchasing power, but we all have different behaviors."
Businesses have begun to seek exposure by climbing aboard Latin chambers, said Manuel Chepote, president of the Gulf Coast Latin Chamber of Commerce.
The opportunity to engage the local Hispanic market is everywhere, Chepote said, everything from faith-based festivals to soccer games.
Source: Bradenton Herald