New Wave of Pubs Target the Bicultural Hispanic

Bello magazine, an English language quarterly targeting acculturated, modern U.S. Hispanics 21-54, was launched July 29th. According to publisher Miguel Angel Gutierrez, Bello targets “a different level of Hispanic reader” than that of any other mag on the market, specifically highly acculturated, highly successful English dominant Hispanics who earn or will earn over $60,000 annually. And this is only the most recent demonstration of an increasing awareness of the “bicultural” Hispanic market. Three months ago, the predominantly English language newspaper Conexion (circ. 8,000 single copy sales/5,000 subscription) was launched in San Antonio, the largest U.S. city with a majority Hispanic population. The paid weekly targeting San Antonio's largely acculturated Latino population is published by San Antonio Express-News (circ. 233,410, Sunday 356,377) and its parent company Hearst Corp. Also new this year are English Language Latino TV networks like SíTV and VOY TV.

Bello, published by Multicultural Media LLC, plans to reach its target audience through content which is 100% in English and covers Latino culture, history, art, business, and politics, as well as by placing magazines in locations identified by research firm TGE Demographics as the top 50 Latino influenced markets, including San Antonio, Phoenix, Los Angeles and New York. The magazine will be distributed (newsstand price US $4.95) in Albertsons and Vons supermarkets, Barnes and Noble and Borders bookstores, and Duty-free centers in airports across the country. Central to their distribution plan is Bello's partnership with The Los Angeles Times (daily circ. 1,014,044), which distributed 250,000 copies of the 1st edition of Bello inside its paper to Los Angeles zip codes with high numbers of high-income Hispanics. “The magazine is an added value to LA Times consumers,” explained Gutierrez. “The Times discounted its subscription cost so consumers don't pay extra, but the cost of the magazine is covered.” They plan to distribute 500,000 copies of the second issue and reach 1 million copies by the 4th issue.

According to Julie Contreras, deputy editor at Conexion, their distribution strategy was determined through a demographic study, commissioned by Hearst and Express-News, which identified zip codes with high numbers of Hispanic surnames. They then ran focus groups with residents from the various zip codes to determine whether they were English dominant. “We are working out the kinks now,” Contreras said, “removing boxes from certain areas where we aren't getting the response we expected, and adding them in others.” Contreras said that to get more precise distribution information – down to certain neighborhoods or blocks – would have been too time and cost intensive.

Are advertisers interested in the bicultural segment?

According to Gutierrez, his main challenge is to overcome advertisers' lack of trust in circulation figures. “That's why we have letters from ABC and the LA Times to back up the 350,000 initial circulation we are claiming.” Gutierrez says that many of his advertisers haven't really had a platform like Bello through which to advertise more high-end products to Hispanics. Advertisers include Blue Cross, Kerry Hotels, and Colgate-Palmolive. Gutierrez also mentioned that BMW is very interested in starting a relationship.

Contreras says that Conexion has received a great response from advertisers both local and national. Advertisers can choose to advertise in Spanish or English, which has attracted some businesses who haven't yet developed Hispanic targeted messages. “Foley's didn't have Hispanic specific ads, so they decided to use their general market message and are now developing a Hispanic campaign,” said Contreras. Conexion advertisers include retailers like Home Depot, Walmart, Loews and other department stores, as well as the USDA, Citibank and McDonalds.

Can advertisers reach more acculturated Hispanics through general market publications?

“Yes and no,” says Rochelle Newman-Carrasco, CEO of Enlace Communications, Inc., a Los Angeles based ad agency. “I think we need to stop looking at it as an either/or proposition.”

Beth Press, publisher of Latina magazine, which recently released a first-of-its-kind study of the “bicultural” Hispanic woman, agrees. “The research validated what we've been saying for a long time—that there are different levels of acculturation within the Hispanic market and that advertisers and publishers must segment.”

“The beauty of being bicultural,” says Newman-Carrasco, “is that you have interests and options that range from things that might be covered by general market magazines to things that are very culturally specific. Rolling Stone isn't going to be able to cover trends in Latino music in any kind of in-depth, meaningful way, so there is room for other publications that can do that.”

Newman-Carrasco says that it is sometimes difficult to get advertisers to really understand this segment of the Hispanic market. “Some ad categories and companies get it more than others, some of the beer and soft drink companies, car companies like Ford and Nissan, fast food restaurants, but there's room for a lot more [advertisers].” She also sees advertisers repeating a lot of the same general market ads instead of creating ads that would really speak to the different market segments and expand their audience.

Carrie Barnes