MARKET FOCUS: ETHNIC PR - Tap into the Latino youth explosion. It’s more than just ’Livin’ la Vida Loca.’ To target the dollars 20 billion Latino teen market you must speak the same language - and it’s not always Sp

Traditionally, communicators and marketers have assumed their messages would reach young Latinos when they targeted all teens or the general Hispanic audience. That’s beginning to change. PR pros and marketers are taking notice of the growing marketplace power of young Latinos, who are estimated to spend dollars 20 billion of their own money each year. They make up 14% of the US teen population, according to Teenage Research Unlimited.

Traditionally, communicators and marketers have assumed their messages would reach young Latinos when they targeted all teens or the general Hispanic audience. That’s beginning to change. PR pros and marketers are taking notice of the growing marketplace power of young Latinos, who are estimated to spend dollars 20 billion of their own money each year. They make up 14% of the US teen population, according to Teenage Research Unlimited.

Traditionally, communicators and marketers have assumed their

messages would reach young Latinos when they targeted all teens or the

general Hispanic audience. That’s beginning to change. PR pros and

marketers are taking notice of the growing marketplace power of young

Latinos, who are estimated to spend dollars 20 billion of their own

money each year. They make up 14% of the US teen population, according

to Teenage Research Unlimited.



And this market sector is expected to grow by as much as 62% over the

next 20 years.



But if you think reaching these young people only takes invoking someone

like Ricky Martin or Jennifer Lopez, think again. Latinos are much more

complicated than that - complicated enough that communications experts

are still trying to figure out this market.



Young Latinos may share many similarities with their American peers, but

the bottom line is most of them do not talk the same way or have the

same cultural ties. For young Hispanics who rarely see images of

themselves incorporated in mainstream TV, radio and advertising,

tailoring information specifically for them can increase the impact of

your message.



’You can’t do a one-stop, one-size-fits-all approach. How you market to

a young Mexican man in LA will depend on how long he’s been in the

country, his primary language, his likes and dislikes,’ says Armado

Trull, VP of Cohn & Wolfe’s Hispanic outreach division.



For a responsible drinking campaign for the Century Council, Cohn &

Wolfe researched different segments of the youth market - from recent

young immigrants to bilingual first generation groups to fifth

generation youth who might not speak any Spanish. The result was a

campaign using musicians playing salsa, Spanish hip hop, Spanish rock

and other areas that each have their own distinct following. ’You really

need to know exactly what part of the youth community you’re trying to

reach or you’ll waste your money,’ says Trull.



There are some overarching issues, however, that should be addressed

when looking at this group.



’The cultural nuances are the largest problem that people trying to

communicate with the Hispanic community face. You cannot just write in

Spanish and expect it to work, especially with young people,’ says Henry

de La Garza, CEO of de La Garza Public Relations in Houston. Many

experts say that young Latinos prefer to receive information in English

- though that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t sometimes use

Spanish.



Jessica Priego, account supervisor at Ogilvy Public Relations in

Washington, DC, is working on materials for MasterCard that will target

Latino college students. Although written in English, the materials have

been constructed around young Latino experiences. For example, many come

from households where credit cards have not been used, so more

explanation on how credit cards work will be included on brochures. ’We

don’t translate anymore.



We adapt,’ says Priego. ’You need to provide examples that they can

relate to.’





Know the audience well



Eighty percent of young Hispanics use Spanglish (a mixture of English

and Spanish) when speaking with each other. ’You need to create messages

that don’t speak to the community but come from the community.

Communicating using their jargon is the most important thing you can

do,’ says Larry Barrios, account executive at MWW Group in Los

Angeles.



Arbitrary translation of words into Spanish will only project a

’wannabe’ image. Spanglish tends to mix English with a smattering of

Spanish words that have more meaning than their English counterparts.

And, as with any young audience, slang is constantly changing so

research is imperative to keeping your message current.



In Houston, Henry de la Garza found that Latino kids and teens were not

going to local public libraries in large part because of

misinterpretation of the word ’library’ - in Spanish, ’libreria’ means

’bookstore’ and ’biblioteca’ means ’library.’ The result was a campaign

for the Houston Public Libraries using ’biblioteca’ and the slogan

’libros y mas’ (books and more) indicating that other resources like

computers were also available there.



In Latino cultures the ties to family present significant differences

from mainstream teens. Hispanic kids are taught from day one to have

respect for their families, pride in the family name and self-reliance.

’They are not as rebellious as American teens. They recognize that their

parents have sacrificed a lot for them and will often say their parents

are role models,’ says Roxanna Lissa, president of RL Public Relations &

Marketing in Los Angeles.



Because young Latinos live with parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts

who may speak very little English, they are constantly exposed to

Spanish-language media at home. It is quite common for Hispanic families

to watch TV together, especially telenovelas (Latin American soap

operas) and local news programs.



Young Latinos who move between English-speaking and Spanish-speaking

realms are exposed to a vast array of media. ’With young Latinos, you

have double the amount of opportunities to reach them,’ says Deborah

Kazenelson, president of DKLA Communications in LA.



Despite young Latinos’ widespread use of English, some subjects may

carry more resonance when addressed in Spanish, especially delicate

concerns such as religion, relationships and sex. Ogilvy produced an

HIV/AIDS awareness campaign for DC Faces in Spanish to reach young

Latino men. Latino soccer players were used as spokespersons and an

awareness day was created at an October DC United soccer game. ’You need

to push the right cultural buttons and put things in the right cultural

context to get your message across,’ says Ogilvy’s Priego. The event was

followed up with posters saying ’protege tu futuro’ (protect your

future).



When speaking to young Latinos in Spanish, a general and straightforward

language should be used, without the regional variations found

throughout Latin America. But remember that many third- and

fourth-generation Latinos don’t even speak Spanish, so study your target

before you choose a media outlet.



All of this is not to say that you won’t reach these youths by targeting

mainstream teens. Young Hispanics tend to bear more similarities to

their American peers than they do to older generations of Latinos.

’Something I have to hammer into my clients time and time again is that

Hispanic teens are an entirely different market from their parents. They

are better educated than their parents, they prefer to communicate in

English and to consume English media,’ says Juan Faura, director of

global research at Cheskin Research.





The message, not the messenger



For example, in focus groups the ’Got Milk?’ commercials scored high

with young Latinos even though they were in English with no Hispanic

characters, while other commercials featuring Latino stars scored low if

their messages were unclear or deemed uncool.



If Latino teens respond so well to general teen messages, why should you

invest in PR targeted specifically at them? RL PR’s Lissa argues that,

while general messages may be well received by Latino teens, they also

may carry less resonance than messages that specifically target this

group.



In addition, teens tend to focus on being part of American culture, but

once in college a new phenomenon takes place, which some have dubbed

’reverse acculturation.’ Young Hispanics become more interested in their

ethnic background and in speaking Spanish. They also take more notice

when messages do not include them.



Obviously, determining when to use Spanish and when to use English

presents some difficulty, as does knowing when to tap into American

cultural icons and when to appeal to Latino sensibilities. Possibly the

only thing that’s clear, at this point, experts say, is that there can

be no one way of targeting this group.



Cohn & Wolfe’s Trull and others hope to see the level of market research

on Latinos reach the same level of sophistication it has with the

African-American market. But given the rapid morphing that goes on in

youth culture, getting out there and seeing what young Latinos are doing

is the only way to ensure your message has the right appeal.





LATINO MEDIA OUTLETS: A SELECTION



Print



Latina magazine: a women’s magazine for Latinas. Stories cover career,

celebrities, beauty, health, food and travel with a Latino edge and is

written in both English and Spanish. Latina Girl provides similar

coverage for Latinas in their early teens.





Television



Local Spanish-language newscasts: Spanish-language networks Telemundo

and Univision produce local news programs often watched by the entire

family.



Sabado Gigante: four-hour Saturday morning game show, talent show and

talk show. The variety show, hosted by Don Francisco, is regularly

watched by entire families and boasts 100 million viewers.



Despierta America: national morning show on the Univision network

showcases news, human interest stories and lifestyle pieces.





Radio



New York: La Mega WSKO 97.9 FM plays the hottest salsa, Spanish rock and

top-of-the-charts Spanish-language music. Its morning drive program

features celebrities, advice and promotionals, often geared toward a

young male audience.



Miami: El Zol 95.7 FM reaches young Latinos with both morning and

evening drive programs as well as hip promotions and contests.





Internet



Quepasa.com: one of the most popular Internet portals among Latinos, the

site offers articles and information in both Spanish and English.



Topics covered include everything from finance to sports.



Starmedia.com: the US section of this Spanish-language portal features

articles on news, sports, music and entertainment - with both US- and

Latino-focused stories.



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