Lucia Ballas-Traynor: “Beauty and Style at the Core of Latina’s Identity”

The Internet has altered the lives of Latinas like myself. It all started with the need for connectivity – a hunger to establish deeper connections with the families we left behind in our countries of origin as well as others who share a bicultural lifestyle like mine.

Now we’re able to find the music with beats and lyrics that touch our Latin soul; we are able to cook the recipes we grew up with; and now, we can even try on the looks that reflect our faces, hair texture, unique sense of style and curvy body shapes. And, we can choose to create or follow stories in Spanish or English.

For the past 13 years, Hispanic readers have been turning to the pages of People En Español for celebrity-inspired beauty and fashion content that reflects their intense passion for beauty and style.  In response to their demand, our beauty and style coverage has grown exponentially.

Beauty is at the core of Latina's identity and we share a heightened concern for personal appearance. From an early age, we are taught how to care for our hair, skin, and how to apply makeup by our own mothers. Part of feeling good for Latinas is looking good—from head to toe. Fragrances are also a part of most Latinas' daily ritual.

As beauty marketers know, Latina's issues and priorities around hair, skin and makeup are different. As an example, our coarser hair texture leads to specific issues and needs that revolve around styling and manageabilty.

This demand for more beauty and style content that is culturally relevant has resulted in People en Español expanding this area online as well. Hispanic users come to not only for their daily entertainment news scoop but they come to spot “the look of the day” as well as beauty and fashion trends set by leading Hispanic celebrities. Users come to to find today’s Hispanic celebrities who inspire, define and differentiate them from their Anglo counterparts.

A few months ago, we set out to capture more of this interest in beauty and style and created a new makeover tool for called “Cambia Tu Look.”Cambia Tu Look allows users to try on the looks they’ve been spotting with hair colors, eye color, and face shapes that truly represent real Hispanic women.

The interactive makeover tools features Hollywood celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Katie Holmes as well as Latin celebrities from top telenovelas like Jacqueline Bracamontes, teen idosl like Anahi and Belinda and Hollywood crossovers like Salma Hayek. We also feature photos of models or regular Latinas who reflect the faces of our users.

Since its launch, Cambia Tu Look has generated 16.2 million hair and makeup try-ons. Nearly 1.3 million hair try-ons in January 2010 alone. Eye colors receive the most try-ons within the make-up sessions followed by lips and skin. The tool has the highest engagement across all our premium channels.  Time spent in the tool averages 9.5 minutes and users are looking at nearly 48 pages each, 6x’s more pages than the total site average.

In February, we launched a Red Carpet channel on showcasing celebrity looks at both Hispanic and non-Hispanic Award Shows.Photos of Red Carpet arrivals alongside Best & Worst Dressed, Best Moments, Who Wore It Best Blog and user polls are all a part of this section. This Red Carpet Channel has already grown to become one of our most trafficked sections of the website.

This personally relevant content is now driving millions of Hispanic consumers online.

To emerge as a true leader, to stay relevant – no matter what Hispanic brand you lead – online must be an integral component of your brand strategy.

*Lucia Ballas-Traynor is publisher of People en Español.