Women´s magazines, Publishers and advertisers miss each other in their attempts to reach Latinas

With the U.S. Census Bureau reporting more than 11 million Hispanic women over the age of 18 living in the United States, and an increasing number of these women entering the work force and starting their own businesses, media buyers and advertisers are asking why Hispanic women's magazines haven't hit circulation levels high enough to make them effective in reaching consumers.

“There seems to be a myth that Hispanics don't read, that we're a T.V. culture,” says Nelly Cardenas, who until recently worked as a media buyer at Media Planning Group, “but I think that's just a myth. Look at People en Español, it flies off the shelf. If you put out a quality vehicle, with the strong distribution networks of a company like Time Inc., Hispanics are interested.”

Cathy Areu, publisher of three-year old CATALINA (bi-monthly, circ.100,000), currently the only national Hispanic publication 100% owned by a woman (in 2001 Anna Maria Arias editor and publisher of LATINA-Style held this title), sees it differently. “If you look at the size of the market even People en Español should be doing better.” According to Areu, who was a reporter for mainstream and Hispanic publications before moving into publishing, many Hispanic women's magazines aren't succeeding because their publishers aren't talking to Hispanics in the right way. “They don't really know their market.”

A population as large and diverse as Hispanic American women contains a number of different markets. Maybe instead of asking why circulations aren't higher, advertisers should ask how they can use current Hispanic women's mags to more effectively reach target audiences.

Where is the ad money going?

To understand the Hispanic women's magazine market it is important to note that almost 80% of magazine advertising targeting Hispanics goes to the 5 or 6 magazines with the highest circulation. And of these, only two – Latina and Hispanic Business – are written specifically for Hispanics; the others are Spanish translations of English magazines, with some original Spanish content.

There are a number of women's magazines on the market, including titles like CATALINA, Vanidades (bimonthly, circ. 110,000, Editorial Televisa), Cristina La Revista (monthly, circ. 100,000, Editorial Televisa), Estylo (8 issues/year, circ. 70,000) and LATINA Style (5 issues/year, circ. 150,000), that provide 100% original content written for Hispanic women. Areu is working hard to make advertisers and media planners aware of the variety of magazines targeting Hispanic women. “Advertisers lump us all together. They think they can get to us all through one magazine. That's crazy. No one expects to reach all mainstream readers with one magazine.”

The publishers add to the problem by proclaiming to reach readers that their magazines don't target. “So you have advertisers paying for thousands of eyeballs they don't really want. And when there is no response they come to conclusions like ‘Hispanics are not good consumers,' but it's really a matter of misplaced ads,” explains Areu.

Sami Haiman, advertising director for AMI Latino Media Group's newly launched Shape en Español, says general market advertisers are very cautious, too cautious, when targeting the Hispanic market. “Because of AMI's reputation and strong distribution service – American Media owns DSI which controls 70% of all the magazine pockets at supermarket checkouts – we have been able to attract a lot of advertising including P&G, American Heart Association, Ford, Samy Haircare, Neutrogena, the Milk Board and Colgate Palmolive.”

The diversity within the Hispanic market is representative of an increasingly diverse U.S. women's magazine market. According to the Women's Magazines Market – U.S. Report, published by Mintel International Group Ltd., smaller wo-men's magazines that range from Hispanic women to fashion-conscious feminists are challenging the largest and most established women's magazines known as “the Seven Sisters.” The report predicts that over the next five years women's magazines will have to respond to a “fundamentally different” readership, one that is more ethnically diverse, and has less regular reading habits. More niche titles might better serve not only Hispanic women, but an increasingly diverse group of American women.

Still many mediabuyers like Nellie Cardenas are focused on numbers. “I think we need fewer titles with higher circulations. Our clients look at our listings and analysis and they're dismayed by the low numbers.”

What is missing from Hispanic women's mags?

All of the media planners interviewed by Portadatm said there is too much emphasis on entertainment in Hispanic magazines. Cardenas admits that Hispanics do like entertainment, but she and her clients would like to see something meatier.

Cardenas describes it as “a sort of void” between entertainment magazines which are gossipy and light on one end, and dryer business magazines like Hispanic Business on the other. “There's a lot of room in between for magazines on health and women's empowerment, especially for women in their 30's and 40's.” These magazines do exist. CATALINA caters to English-dominant professional Hispanic women ages 24-54, Ser Padres caters to Spanish dominant new moms, and LATINA Style targets educated and affluent Latina professionals. Shape en Español targets the health conscious Spanish dominant Latina, which according to Varela should be a welcome platform for pharmaceutical companies wanting to reach Hispanic women. AMI Latino also announced plans to launch Fit Pregnancy en Español in 2004.

Still many of these magazines seem to slip under the radar of media planners. Franklin Mejias of La Agencia de Orci says “Latina is really the only Hispanic women's magazine with a high national circulation. We purchase space in Latina, but that's it.” Actually, Vista magazine, although not exclusively targeting Latinas, has an ABC audited circulation of one million and 60% of its readers are women. Mejias laments the fact that fashion magazines for Hispanic women spotlight European and American fashion. In his opinion, a magazine on Hispanic fashion would be a welcome addition. Both Latina and CATALINA often feature Latino designers.

Mejias also sees a market for educational magazines about work, finance, and business. According to 1997 reports by the U.S. Department of Labor, Hispanic women make up 9 percent of the civilian workforce and that number is projected to grow to 12 percent by 2008. Hispanic women are also the fastest growing group of small business owners. Mejias says the financial ad category has a lot of potential in this large and growing demographic. Magazines like CATALINA, Hispanic Business, Latina, and Shape>en Español are well aware of this market and are dedicated exclusively, or in part, to serving it.

What publishers are planning to do

CATALINA will continue on its course of gradual growth. Its new cover, with fattened logo and cover teasers that are more appealing to the mainstream, will debut in March/April. According to Areu, the magazine has really nailed its target audience. “We haven't had to adjust much of anything.”

Shape en Español (circ. 100,000, monthly) AMI Latino's new health and fitness magazine targeting Hispanic women 18-49 is “doing very well,” according to advertising director Sami Haiman. “We are already getting an ABC audit with only six issues out.” The health and fitness magazine has 35% original content, but plans to make it 50% by the end of the year. They are also working hard to get Latina celebrities on their covers. Shape en Español is planning a national health tour this summer in conjunction with the American Heart Association to educate young Latinas about the dangers of heart disease and the importance of good health in its prevention. This March, AMI Latino plans to test launch Thalia, an entertainment and lifestyle mag whose editor is the popular Mexican recording artist Thalia.

Conde Nast Americas has plans to expand Vogue en Español to include fashion supplements called Vogue Modas, which will be published twice a year in March and September to highlight new designs and fashion trends. According to CEO Pablo Payro, the Latin American and U.S. Hispanic arm of Conde Nast is also evaluating other brand extensions, as well as stand alones. He couldn't give details on the new mags, but said they would target an upscale women's market. Meredith was also secretive about new launches, saying only that they are exploring all possibilities and that they do plan to make an entrance into the Hispanic market this year.

Carrie Barnes


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