Say Hola to Your Next Consumer

Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, March 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

Say Hola to Your Next Consumer


Byline: Karen Holt

This spring American Media will launch a women's magazine that mixes beauty tips, lifestyle advice, celebrity interviews and inspirational stories of selfless acts - all reflecting the spirit of one very famous woman whose name and image will grace each issue's cover.

Oh, you mean O? No.

We're talking Thalia, an Oprah-like icon for Hispanic women.

Ah, yes, Thalia.

Whether you nod in instant recognition or draw a blank at the name is probably a barometer of how close you are to Hispanic pop culture. Among Hispanics, the sexy Mexican soap star-turned-singing diva has a one-name cachet comparable to Oprah's. American Media's plan to stake a monthly glossy - called Thalia - on her appeal is just one sign of an industry-wide rush to grab a share of the large and fast-growing Hispanic audience.

Publishers are drawn by the growth in the Hispanic population, and by the success of magazines already targeting it. The largest, People En Espanol, has been growing briskly since it was introduced in 1998. In 2003, its ad pages jumped 15.3 percent to 772. The U.S. version of Reader's Digest's Selecciones was relaunched in 2000. The magazine combines original content and stories from Reader's Digest translated into Spanish, and has posted three consecutive years of double-digit ad-page growth. This year, it increased its rate base from 325,000 to 350,000. Latina, an English-language women's magazine published by Latina Media Ventures LLC, has increased its circulation by 20 percent, to 350,000, over the past two years, and had a 29.8 percent increase in advertising pages in 2003.

Clearly mainstream advertisers are waking up to the possibilities. Ad revenue for the top 58 Hispanic-oriented magazines reached an estimated $145.9 million in 2003, a 23.7 percent increase over the previous year, according to Hispanic Magazine Monitor, a newsletter published by consulting firm Media Economics Group.

While in the past advertising dollars tended to be limited to companies, such as Goya, that make products specifically for the Hispanic market, now mass-market advertisers are the major spenders. Procter & Gamble, for example, was the biggest advertiser in Hispanic publications, increasing its spending 32 percent from last year to $11.2 million, followed by General Motors, up 166 percent, to $7.1 million, and Ford Motor Co., up 32 percent, to $6.4 million. "Since the census figures were released, it has really lit a fire under the interest," says the Group's president, Carlos Pelay.

He's referring to last year's release of U.S. Census Bureau data showing that the Hispanic population rose by 60 percent between 1990 and 2000, and jumped another 9.8 percent by 2002, to 38.8 million. (By contrast, the overall U.S. population increased just 2.5 percent during that two-year period.) Currently, more than 13 percent of Americans identify themselves as Hispanic. By 2050, that number is expected to reach 25 percent. That picture of a changing America, combined with the strong performance of magazines already on the market, has convinced more publishers to place substantial bets on Hispanic-oriented products. "Obviously, this is a growing market," says American Media spokesman Gerald McKelvey, "It's a market that is eager to be served, so why should we not do that?"

In June 2003, American Media created a Latino Magazine Group, which publishes the Spanish-language entertainment magazine Mira!. In September, the Latino Group launched Shape En Espanol, a spinoff of the English-language fitness title. Thalia editor-in-chief Donna Hernandez is also editor of Shape En Espanol.

Meredith Publishing Group, too, is prepping products for the category. Last month, it lured Ruth Gaviria away from People En Espanol to fill the newly created position of director of Hispanic Ventures. In late 2002, Meredith bought the American Baby group from Primedia, partly to gain entry into the Hispanic market through the group's three Spanish titles, Espera, Primeros 12 Meses, and Healthy Kids en Espanol. …

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