Catalogers mostly go alter Hispanics in English

Although Hispanic purchasing power has increased at a compound annual growth of 7.7% to its current level of $700 billion this considerable economic growth has not spurned the emergence of Spanish-language catalogs in the volume that might be expected. Why is it that there are so few Spanish-language catalogs, when the population is burgeoning and their spending power rapidly increasing?

One explanation is that there simply isn't the demand for such catalogs: According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), 76% of US Hispanics surveyed said that they prefer to receive English-language catalogs over Spanish-language (13%) and bilingual (11%). Another explanation is that putting out a Spanish-language is more costly than it seems. Not only does a company have to produce the catalog and pay for all of the costs associated with that, but it must also set up the infrastructure such as Spanish-language call centers to service those customers. Chris Ragussa, of New Rochelle, NY based Estee Marketing, a list management and brokerage firm, contends that a substantial portion of the Hispanic market can be reached through English-language catalogs. As such, many companies might not see sufficient ROI to produce Spanish-language catalogs.

There are indeed some Spanish-language catalogs, such as Todo Ella, Innovativa, Mundo Latina, Tabak's and Casa de Maria, but they are still relatively few in number. According to Estee Marketing's Ragussa.

Spanish-language catalogs include Todo Ella, Innovativa, Mundo Latina, Tabak's and Casa de María.

Fingerhut, the direct retailer targeting middle and lower income households, is expected to come back into the market with a Spanish-language catalog later this year. Interestingly, these catalogs sell mainly the same types of merchandise, such as weight-loss and beauty products. Why the cluster of catalogs in this area? Again, the explanation seemingly boils down to consumer demand: According to the latest survey by's research arm, QuePasa Market Intelligence (QMI), “nearly half of bilingual Hispanics (46%) want to change their body weight. Other physical attributes bilingual Hispanics wanted to change about themselves included hair (28%), height (16%), and face (10%).”

So US Hispanics clearly care about their appearance, which explains the cluster of health/beauty catalogs directed at them, but it is worth examining how they feel about catalogs, to see if they are bound to take off – or fall flat – in the years ahead.


While Spanish-language catalogs may not be set to explode any time in the near future, there are some positive signs for catalogers going after the Hispanic market in English. In a recent study, the DMA found that Hispanics are more likely to make catalog purchases than the general market: “Compared to the total US population, Hispanics buy more clothing/apparel (53% vs. 32%) and health/beauty products (21% vs. none) from catalogs.”

In addition, 61% of US Hispanics reported receiving “just the right amount” of catalogs, as compared, with 29% of respondents saying they received too many, and 6% saying they received too few. Catalogers are clearly going after the more affluent Hispanic demographic, as households that earn between $75,000-100,000 receive almost twice the amount of catalogs per week (7.08)  than each of the preceding income brackets (Avg: 3.62).

Perhaps it is statistics like these that are encouraging companies like Swiss Colony to test the waters. The multititle mailer company, recently purchased Ashro Lifestyles, a Chicago-based fashion and accessories cataloger that is geared toward African American women.

CEO John Baumann recently said, "We've already been talking with the people at Ashro about starting a catalog catered to the Hispanic community… At this point, we're just in the concept stage, but we do intend to explore this market seriously." And Swiss Colony's instincts might be right on the money going after female shoppers.


Though Hispanic catalog buyers are distributed rather evenly across age groups, they are overwhelmingly female, representing 74% of all Hispanic catalog buyers. In terms of education levels, the largest group of people who made purchases from catalogs was that which had completed high school.

Spanish-language catalogers often acquire circulation lists from publishers of Spanish-language magazines from and list brokers (see “Mag subscriber lists, efficient tools for marketers”, page 22 Portada® Nr. 12, November/ December 2004).

Alex Andrews