Sandbox Wars: Hispanic Parenting Media Market Heats Up

The cat is out of the bag. Hispanic parenting media is big business and is only getting bigger. New York-based Palladium Equity Partners just wagered $15 million dollars on it, when it approved financing for Todobebé’s expansion, which includes the launch of its print publication in April. Meanwhile, publishing giant Meredith closed the shutters on general market parenting title, Child, to focus its resources on its Spanish-language title Ser Padres, now the largest consumer magazine in the country, according to publisher Enedina Vega-Amaez.

Todobebe, a 24-page magazine—16 editorial and 8 advertising—is going to be distributed as an insert in Impremedia newspapers together with La Vibra, Impremedia’s Friday entertainment supplement. Impremedia publishes Spanish-language newspapers in New York, Chicago Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orlando and Tampa.  Nelson pointed out that in those markets where Impremedia does not publish newspapers Todobebé is going to be inserted in other Hispanic newspapers. The magazine is going to be published two times a year (mid-April and mid September) and will have a circulation of 900,000. Each of the issues is going to be released before major events organized by Todobebé take place.

Meredith Corporation is quite active in the marketplace, publishing three separate titles targeting Hispanic parents: Ser Padres (700,000, 8x/year, Spanish) Espera, circ: 375,000, and 12 Meses, circ: 300,000. According to publisher Enedina Vega-Amaez, Ser Padres’ circulation qualifies it as the largest Spanish-language consumer magazine in the country. Meredith’s Hispanic market parenting media trajectory has been quite an interesting one, very much intertwined with its general market initiatives. In 2005, Meredith acquired Ser Padres as part of a $350 million dollar deal that included general market titles Parents, Child, Fitness and Family Circle. The magazine is meant to provide all the tools Hispanic parents need to raise healthy and happy children. 

The acquisition of Ser Padres was huge for Meredith, as it had a bimonthly circulation of 500,000 copies, virtually doubling its Hispanic parenting market penetration. Fast forward to April of this year when Meredith announced that it was discontinuing Child, which had been part of the 2005 deal with Gruner and Jahr. Citing satisfactory returns from Ser Padres, the company announced that it would continue as a print publication. The magazine’s current incarnation was completed when, in October of this year, Meredith merged Healthy Kids en español into Ser Padres, bringing its circulation to its current level.

Meredith’s other two parenting publications are aimed at reaching parents at all stages of parenthood. Espera is published twice a year— once in the Spring/Summer, and once in the Fall/Winter— and targets expectant Hispanic parents. Its circulation stands at 375,000 and it is distributed in OBGYN offices. Like Espera, 12 Meses is published twice a year. Its circulation is 300,000 and it is distributed in maternity wards. The publication serves as a month by month guide to the baby’s first year.

Impact Communications is another player in the field with New Parent en español (825,000, 2x year/ Spanish), sister publication to the general market magazine New Parent. Steve Kantor, president and co-owner of Impact Media says their new Hispanic parenting title is different from existing magazines because it is designed to help pregnant women make the transition to motherhood. While other titles focus on the daily challenges of specific stages of pregnancy or parenthood, New Parent en español takes a more long term view, says Kantor. Advertisers include: J&J, Kimberly-Clark, Clorox, Balmex, Avent, P&G, Target, Babies R Us, Burlington Coat and Desitin, among others.

The magazine is distributed by childbirth educators, OBGYN offices and Babies ‘R’ Us stores who distribute on a gifted/complimentary basis.

The picture hasn’t all been rosy, however. Two Hispanic parenting media properties have closed in the last year. Lamaze para Padres (circ. 750,000, 2 printings annually), which Ivillage Parenting Network published, was discontinued in 2006 due to strategic considerations upon being bought out by NBC Universal. It was nothing personal, though, the new company shut down all of its print initiatives. Similarly, Northwest Parent Media, a company that published regional parenting magazine Padres de Hoy (monthly, Spanish, circ. 30,000) in cooperation  with Seattle weekly Hispanic newspaper Sea Latino, folded the magazine earlier this year when Sea Latino (circ. 20,000, Spanish) was acquired by The Washington Post Co.


An Evolving Landscape

While Hispanic parenting media has clearly grown over the last few years, it has also changed in some fundamental ways. Todobebé’s Cynthia Nelson says the biggest change has come about in content delivery: “For the past 50+ years, the parenting information came from magazines.  What has changed in the past five years is the need and requirement to provide parents with information not only in-language (Spanish), but also in their mediums of choice, which now include TV, radio, digital, grass roots, products, mobile, WAP, etc.,” says Nelson. “Moms are moms and it does not matter if they are CEOs or taxi drivers—when their babies are crying they want to find the answer, now.  They can’t always wait to find the article in the magazine from two months ago – they need to access it when and where it makes the most sense, so they use different mediums at different times.” Todobebé’s view is that integrated media content platforms are crucial to reaching this market and ensuring that the advertiser’s brand is in the hearts and minds of Hispanic parents.

Enedina Vega-Amaez, publisher of Meredith’s Hispanic titles, cites developing markets as a new factor in the space: “We've seen a growing demand for our magazines in areas across the country where the Hispanic population is expanding and a growing demand from advertisers desiring to reach moms. In addition to our internal growth, a few Spanish-language websites have entered the competitive marketplace.”

New Parent en español Founder and President Steve Kantor echoes Vega-Amaez’s comments about the increased advertiser interest: “We are beginning to see more advertisers who recognize the need to communicate with this market on its own terms. They recognize it for the growth market that it is.”


Platform Integration Strategy

Some of the technological and demographic developments that have taken place in recent years have necessitated certain shifts in strategy by publishers. Much of this strategy shift has to do with platform integration. Commenting on how her company has integrated its platforms, Vega-Amaez says, “Seamlessly. As part of Meredith Corp., publisher of Parents, American Baby and Family Circle magazines, we have a strong 360-degree integrated marketing strategy. We hold the lead position in the parenthood category and marketing to moms. Our unique distribution method gives us direct access to women – moms -- in doctor's offices. We also integrate with Meredith online properties, events, retail events and custom publishing.”

Indeed, this past June, Meredith consolidated all of the Hispanic Custom Publishing programs at Meredith Integrated Marketing and American Baby to Hispanic Ventures under industry veteran Chiqui Cartagena. Says Vega-Amaez , “Advertising expenditures in the direct marketing space continue to grow every year and we hope to capture more of those dollars,” says Vega-Amaez. “The results not only benefit Hispanic Ventures but also other parts of the enterprise as seen recently with Kellogg’s. Thanks to the work Meredith did for Kellogg’s in the Hispanic market last year, Meredith Integrated Marketing was able to pitch – and land – a general market program.”

Todobebé’s business model centers on expanding its brand in the Spanish-speaking world, through syndication agreements similar to those of Martha Stewart’s Omnimedia. This past August, the company announced its expansion into Spain, Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala. In Spain, Todobebé signed a format license deal with the TV production and distribution company DRIVE Television, S.L. which has adapted the Todobebé TV show for broadcast. Last summer, Todobebé joined forces with Caracol, the largest media company in Colombia, to launch a summer run of Todobebé TV on Caracol Television nationwide. The deal expanded the agreement first launched between Caracol and Todobebé in the summer of 2006, and brought Johnson & Johnson into the mix as an advertising partner.

In Mexico, Televisa Networks extended its licensing agreement with Todobebé to include more episodes and more frequent airings. Todobebé also closed a video licensing agreement with the Mexican video publishing and distribution company Tycoon Entertainment Group S.A. de C.V., to release Todobebé videos in Mexico. Finally, in Guatemala, Guatevisión signed a renewal agreement with Todobebé, to continue to air the TV shows nationwide on a weekly basis. Todobebé media platforms include television, website, events, print, research, book and radio. With the 2008 launch of the magazine it establishes a national print media vehicle.

Meanwhile, Steven Kantor of New Parent en español says they are still committed mainly to print: “We are focused on the print channel to the Hispanic market at this time with plans to offer a Spanish language option at Newparent.com in the future,” says Kantor.

Same Field, Different Game…

Meredith’s Enedina Vega-Amaez elaborates on the cultural gap that exists between the Hispanic market and the general market: “A general market magazine and a Spanish-language magazine would never address sleepovers in the same way. Sleepovers are not part of the Hispanic cultural experience but they come up as the family is exposed to American ways. Thus, a Hispanic magazine needs to introduce the idea, talk about the benefits and the challenges and offer guides – how young is too young for sleepovers, what should you keep in mind when deciding whether or not to allow one, why are sleepovers important to kids, how do you prepare your kid for a sleepover, what are some pitfalls, etc.”

Todobebé’s Cynthia Nelson says, “I think that while there are parallels, the Hispanic parenting market is an even more vibrant family environment. Babies and children are the center point of any Hispanic family.  Hispanics over-index in every major category regarding purchases.  It’s an $80 billion dollar market in purchases made for the 0-5 market!”

Destacado: “I'm not sure that income is a discriminating factor. Level of acculturation might be a more meaningful measure.”

Asked how the magazine deals with providing advice to an audience whose income levels vary so greatly, Cynthia Nelson comments, “I think that the most important thing to note is that parents want to be good parents. What’s important is simplifying ideas and dissecting complex topics into practical tips for every parent, regardless of income or socio-economic status.”

Vega-Amaez sees it this way: “I'm not sure that income is a discriminating factor. Level of acculturation might be a more meaningful measure. However, our core audience of Spanish-language dominant Hispanic moms all put their families first and all look for ways to be the best, most informed parents possible.” 


While general market and Hispanic parenting media are ostensibly similar in that they both seek to advise their audiences in various stages of parenthood, the cultural undercurrents at work in the Hispanic market present their own unique needs and challenges: “The marketing/advertising component is very different from the general market,” says Impact Media’s Steven Kantor. “Brands must position and present themselves in a way which is unique to the Hispanic culture. Same is true of media that serves this market. Simple translation of general market content will not work. The market needs are different, and so to must be your content proposition.”


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