The U.S. Hispanic market has become too big to ignore. In 2010, Hispanic purchasing power was estimated at $1 trillion, and it's projected to grow to $1.5 trillion in the next four years. If U.S. Hispanics were a country unto themselves, it would be the world's ninth-largest economy, according to a recent Forbes article.
Some media giants, including News Corp., Comcast, and Disney are fiercely competing to get a piece of the fast-growing market, Forbes reported.
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Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision, which has enjoyed a nearly uncontested market (recently their ratings were gaining on the big four English-language networks) has partnered with Disney's ABC on a joint 24-hour news channel to win bilingual Hispanics.
"By sharing our resources, we will inform, entertain, and empower the enormously influential Hispanic American community and many others interested in our programming," ABC News President Ben Sherwood said in a statement when the partnership was announced.
Forbes noted that Comcast, the parent company of NBC Universal, is backing a new television network called El Rey that promises to be "action-packed for Latino and general audiences." El Rey is aimed at second- and third-generation Hispanics, and reflects their identity in this country. And it doesn't stop there. Viacom, Time Warner, Yahoo, and YouTube are doing the same, according to Forbes.
A new Spanish-language broadcast network, MundoFox, backed by Fox International Channels and Colombia's RCN Television Group, will launch this fall. It will offer news, entertainment, exclusive access to sporting events, and telenovelas. With the help of 50 affiliates, MundoFox hopes reach more than 75 percent of U.S. households, Forbes says.
Ralph Herrera, president and cofounder of Lanza Group, a Hispanic marketing firm in Atlanta, said he's not surprised by the attention that the Hispanic market is receiving. Their numbers have surpassed 50 million, and they accounted for more than half of the nation's growth from 2000 to 2010, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
Forbes points out that the Hispanic market is no longer seen as a niche but part of the mainstream consumer market for many companies, including PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble. And having well-known Hispanic faces selling the products also helps.
The cover of Forbes, for instance, has the image of one of the most recognized Hispanic actress, Sofia Vergara, who began her career on a Spanish-language network — she cohosted two programs on Univision — and has made a crossover to the general market. She has done commercials in Spanish and English for Diet Pepsi and Cover Girl, among others. "I think it's wise to expand their brand," Herrera said.
But the Hispanic market has been fairly strong since the 1990s — first becoming noticeable to larger companies after the release of the Census numbers in that decade. In fact, Herrera noted what seems to be a rush to target the growing Hispanic community every time those figures are released.
"From the 2010 Census, there's seems to be a renewed interest in this market," said Herrera, who started his marketing firm to connect businesses with the growing Hispanic population in the South. In Georgia, 10 percent of the population is Hispanic, with the majority tracing its roots to Mexico. Herrera, who was born in Cuba and moved to Florida's Little Havana with his family as a toddler, said he immediately "saw an opportunity."
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