New book speaks to Hispanics

Jan 01, 1999 10:30 PM  By

Nearly 29 million Hispanic consumers live in the U.S., and they have an estimated $350 billion to spend, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2010, the Hispanic population is expected to grow 46%, reaching more than 41 million. It’s surprising, then, that more catalogers don’t directly target this untapped market.

“More than 10,000 English-language catalogs are mailed in the U.S., but only two in Spanish,” claims Terry Hecht, sales coordinator for Tempe, AZ-based Con Estilo Latino, a new Spanish-language catalog of gifts, skincare products, and children’s merchandise.

Con Estilo Latino, which translates to “With Latin Style,” mailed in late September to 130,000 U.S. Hispanics-including 33,000 in Los Angeles, 12,000 throughout Texas, 11,000 in New York, 10,000 in Miami, 8,000 in Puerto Rico, and 3,000 in Phoenix. The remaining catalogs were mailed to Hispanic communities throughout the country. Names were accumulated from 22 rented lists, space ads in Spanish-language magazines such as People Espanol and Vanidades, and commercials on the Spanish-language cable-TV network Telemundo. The company claims it has received about 150 catalog requests a day since the launch.

Building a database Con Estilo Latino sees its greatest growth opportunity in building a database of Spanish-speaking U.S. consumers, then building revenue by selling space in the book to other marketers. The cataloger is already selling pages to let companies “test products with this audience instead of creating a Spanish-language catalog of their own,” Hecht says. Participating catalogers not only get access to those names, but they also can place their books in product packages; in exchange, Con Estilo Latino receives 10% of each order.

“This is a population that receives less than two dozen pieces of direct mail a year,” Hecht says. “Only four of the 22 lists we rented were successful, which forced us to look at other ways to attract customers, such as ads on Telemundo.”

And because Hispanics are largely ignored by mailers, “we’ve had to teach our customers how to shop through catalogs,” Hecht adds. Copy in Con Estilo Latino also explains in detail how to order over the phone. Even so, “our bilingual customer service reps spend twice as long on the phone than [do reps at] other companies.”-SO