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Top 5 Reasons Why Latinos Must be on Your Advertising Agenda

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Opening on Monday October 3rd including intriguing topics like "Will Latinos Elect our Next President" and "The Transformed General Market" the world's premier annual gathering of marketing and communications leaders kicks-off with some Latin flare in New York city.

With a mission to galvanize the industry, Advertising Week seeks to move key industry goals forward like talent, diversity, among others, to serve as a catalyst that takes advertising and media to the next level.

In a year of fresh Census numbers, financial recession and an uncertain and highly competitive political climate, it is evident that the size and power of Latinos are slowly but surely getting the mainstream spotlight it deserves. But, why hasn't the needle moved more? Why is Hispanic marketing still perceived as "the special program" or the pilot to pursue in the case of leftover budgets? Why is there such a big disparity between the size and growth that the market represents versus the advertising and resources allocated towards it?

While presentations, conferences, gatherings and articles are a great sign of progress, a real evidence of progress will be measured when discussions are followed with investment and action that are representative of the total market opportunity. According to Kantar Media, 2010 ended reporting $131.1 billion in total advertising of which only $6.8 were allocated to reaching Hispanics. While these numbers represent a year over year increase of 8.4% in spend towards reaching Latinos, it still only a timid 5% of total. That is, 5% of investments to reach the 16% of the population that drove 53% of the population growth. This is equivalent to a $12.4 billion gap.

In a world of information overload, data overexposure and an over preached "50 million strong with $1 trillion in buying power" message, maybe it is time to -yet one more time- recap and list the reasons why businesses seeking incremental growth cannot afford to continue to test or ignore the Latino powerhouse.

So, just in time to kick-off Advertising Week, and hopefully before you decide to make the Latino presentations your time to catch up with phone-calls and emails, here are the top 5 market and news indicators that show there is a big van-wagon to jump on before it is too late.

#1 The numbers are too big and obvious to ignore. The Latino- case for action has become a case harder to argue against than one to embrace. So let's restate what you've heard before yet one more time: According to the U.S. Census, Latinos grew by 43% from 38 Million in 2000 to 50 Million in 2010, while the Non-Hispanic population only grew by 4.9%. But more than population numbers, there is significant financial growth represented by this group. In the last 10 years, Hispanic buying power has grown by 347% reaching $1 Trillion in 2010. This ranks the U.S. Hispanic market as the world's ninth biggest economy - larger than the Gross National Product (GNP) of Brazil, Spain or Mexico. Is it denial or simply a case of analysis paralysis? Look no further and let the números do the talk.

#2 America's top 10 cities are 35% Hispanic, today! In a recent conversation with a top sales executive I heard what I've heard over and over again "but Latinos are still only 16% of the population..." Ironically, when I asked which key DMA's were his top drivers of national sales volume, he was quick to respond that CA, TX, NY represented 60% of his total U.S. business. It is unfortunate how a broad assumption could be blinding to the fact that his company could potentially be leaving 1/3 of incremental sales on the table. The markets mentioned above are 33% Hispanic and growing anywhere between 3 to 5 times faster locally. Hispanic consumers are the most geographically concentrated of any large consumer segment with eight states capturing almost 80% of all Hispanics. The 2010 Census data reports that America's top 5 largest and most populous states combined, which represent almost 30% of total U.S. population, are currently 29% Hispanic. Also the top ten most populous U.S. cities are 35% Hispanic, with New York (29%), Los Angeles (48%) and Chicago (29%) topping the charts. While for many 16% of the population doesn't sound impressive enough, it is evident that at the local level the opportunity cost could cause you to miss your national sales targets.

#3 Not your stereotypical undocumented immigrant: 62%+ of all Latinos are U.S. born. With news and politics focusing on illegal immigration and media portraying old Latino stereotypes, good decision making may be getting a little clouded by personal bias. The U.S. Hispanic market is a vibrant and young bi-cultural and bilingual market. 91% of Hispanic children were born in the U.S. and according to Pew Hispanic Center, 22% of all children under 18 in the U.S. are Hispanic. Similar to the 16% population dilemma mentioned above, this make many marketers assume that English language and a one-size fits all works with this emerging "Americanized" Latino. However, multiple research studies and the recent Máximo Report conducted by the New Generation Latino Consortium confirm that while the new Latinos are bilingual and English-speakers, their hearts, minds, values and drivers remain rooted in the culture of their abuelitos (grandparents). For many, their pride is manifesting through a unique sense of retro-acculturation that transcends language. Also, with Hispanic college enrollment up by 24%, Hispanic owned businesses growing three times faster and with an emerging group of affluent Latinos reaching over 5 million households; the approach and places to successfully reach them are far beyond from stereotypical. Hispanic marketing does not equal Spanish marketing. But also don't assume that doing nothing is enough because they speak English...ultimately it boils down to relevancy, just as you would when segmenting and reaching women, teens, elders, Gen X's, etc. Just go back to the insight.

#4 Prime time telenovelas beat the combined ratings of ABC, CBS, NBC. The power of relevancy is coming to live with the original programming developed for U.S. Hispanics by TV outlets like Telemundo, Univision, Mun2, MTV3, NUVOTV, among others. While English-language broadcasters have seen audiences shrink as viewers spend more time watching cable television, ratings for programs for Latinos are holding steady and in some cases growing. For example, Telemundo's May 30 finale of "La Reina del Sur" ("Queen of the South") was the highest rated program in the network's 19-year ratings history, averaging nearly 4.2 million total viewers (persons 2+) and over 2.8 million adults 18-49, according to Nielsen Media Research. In Los Angeles, the finale of "La Reina del Sur" was #1 across all stations in the market among adults 18-49 in its time period, regardless of language, beating the combined delivery of ABC, CBS and NBC. Also, when the Latin Billboards aired on Telemundo this past Spring, the show was the #1 worldwide Twitter top trending topic at 9:30pm EDT, and Telemundo's Twitter following grew by +89% compared to prior day. Additionally, the network's Facebook fan base increased by +54% compared to prior day. Still not convinced? For the week ending September 25th, Univision out-delivered one or more of the English-language broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC or FOX) on five out of seven nights last week among Adults 18-34. Thus far in 2011, Univision is the #2 broadcast network in this demographic, averaging more Adults 18-34 viewers than ABC (+2%), CBS (+17%), and NBC (+11%). And the examples of outperformance go on and on, week after week; all while you may be struggling to juggle a fragmented media, cable and DVR "general-market" media mix.

#5 Big broadcasters and companies like Fox, NBC and Google are Latinizing. With opportunity comes change and innovation, and that is what many companies have done in the last 12 months. CNN rebranded and re-programmed its CNN en Español property, Fox News launched Fox News Latino, John Leguizamo launched UrbanoTV, but beyond content platforms major organizational changes have also taken place. Last April, News Corp.'s Fox Networks Group on Monday announced the creation of Fox Hispanic Media, a new media unit with which the firm intends to broaden its ability to reach the fast-growing Latino public. Within the same week, NBC announced the launch of "Hispanics at NBC" in a company-wide initiative to boost ad dollars targeting Hispanics. And to top it all, Google also created a "specialist team" in 2011 to focus on the U.S. Latino market, leveraging that about 86% of Latinos have high-speed Internet connections at home, and 78 percent use the Internet as their primary source of information, above TV and friends and family. Great leaders whose vision is being matched by top-down sponsorship and bold changes.

So, will you take a leap in 2012? Will you move from sidelines to the playing field? This is your time.

Big kudos, ¡felicitaciones! to Advertising Week and all the participating entities who are bringing this important topic to the table...and only time will tell whether it moves the needle or not.

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Lili Gil is an award-winning business and Hispanic market expert, media/ TV contributor and host of the online show Moments2CulturRise. She is also co-founder and managing partner of XL Alliance a cross-channel marketing strategy organization dedicated to helping business executives maximize their efforts into profitable growth. Gil was recently selected by the World Economic Forum as one of only 190 Young Global Leaders identified across 65 countries for her leadership, community and business impact.