Marc Basté: “Reaching out to a Latin American Audience in Spain”

The Data

Although for a U.S. reader it might seem a contradiction, in Spain there exists a flourishing Hispanic market. During the last 10 years, with annual growth above 30%, immigrants have become more than 13% of the Spanish population. They have origined profound changes in the socioeconomic structure of the country and become a massive new social niche. Half of the immigrant population comes from Latin America, more than 2.5 million persons: they are the  "Hispanics" of Spain. They form the Latino market and are mainly from Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Perú, Argentina, Dominican Republic and Paraguay, among others. 

2.5 million persons might seem very low compared to the number of U.S. Hispanics: the Hispanic population in the U.S. is as large as the total population of Spain -46 million people- and their purchasing power and social and political weight have a are very important. However, Spain seems to follow the footsteps of U.S. and those 2.5 million Latinos, representing 6% of the total population, have already led a revolution in the marketing and business strategies of most Spanish companies. 

The market fundamentals are solid and there are substantial reasons to expect a high growth rate in the coming years: 

– The future is now: over 10% of all births in 2008 were from a Latin American mother; a 75% of Latinos living in Spain are under 40 years old (vs. 51% of the average Spanish population), and 46% is less than 30 years old (vs. 33% of the average Spanish population); 

– Latinos can obtain citizenship with only 2 years of residence -in the case of those from Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa, the period is 10 years; 

– The Spanish population is aging dramatically and the population pyramid is inverting: according to the National Statistics Institute (a government body that manages the population census), in 2050 there will be 9 retirees for every 10 citizens in active, and therefore Spain will require at least 8 million more immigrants until then to sustain the country's economy. 

The market: media and advertisers 

Around this emerging niche market a media industry -primarily newspapers, magazines and local radio stations- has boomed and Latino marketing budgets have grown.  Many of the media players were created between 2004 and 2005, and some had ambitious business expectations, 6 figures investments and professional management teams; after that, big advertisers -especially banking and telecommunications, started investing heavily. From that point on, the market grew and became more efficient: objective circulation data (OJD / PGD) became the standard, and journalistic rigor and product’s quality were the main priorities. 

The last step in the process of Latino market’s creation was the birth, in 2007, of the “Asociación para el Conocimiento de la Población Inmigrante” (association for knowledge of the immigrant population, ACPI – formed by all Latino written media and major media agencies and advertisers (from Havas to Carat, Mindshare and Telefónica). ACPI produces an annual Leadership survey, the EMI, which provides data to a market that, until the emergence of the ACPI, had invested almost blindly. Even with a little creativity and a basic message, the main enterprises in major industries of the country invested in Latino marketing: Banking, Telecom, Retail, Food & Beverages, Electronics, Automotive, Insurance, Travel, Airlines, Textiles, Real Estate, Public Administration, etc. 

As for audience response, success has been rotund: the industry leaders have become succesful, holding local penetrations above 25% and an important social influence in Latino collectives. According to the latest EMI,Latino, a weekly free newspaper published by Novapress Media and distributed in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante and Murcia (Spain’s main Latino markets), is the industry leader with 430,000 weekly readers anf a circulation of 140,000 copies: Latino’s audience has a higher Latino audience than any other written media in the country, including the main Spanish newspapers and magazines.

Despite all that, however, the market share of Latino advertising budgets is not were the demographics are: if the advertising market in Spain was 7,000 M € (9.8 $billion) in 2008, Latino market share should have been 400 M € ($560 million). And believe me, we are far from that! 

Given the current economic situation and the challenges of the media industry worldwide, the Latino market in Spain has much to learn from the U.S. Hispanic market, and probably something to contribute, too. The main challenge for the industry, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, is the online strategy: Internet Latino audiences know no borders, and Spain can become a relevant platform for Spanish content in the medium term. 

Marc Baste is CEO of Novapress Media in Madrid, the publisher of Latino