Among the top 60 advertisers in the Hispanic market (see "Media Markets Report, December 2002), four are telecommunications carriers. A batch of statistics has these marketers singing "La Vida Movil" – industry jargon for the Hispanic community’s love for wireless communication.
According to California-based Cheskin Research, nearly half of U.S. Hispanics have mobile phones, which translates into a market of roughly 16 million people. Insight Research reports that Hispanics spent nearly $4 billion on wireless last year – a figure that is expected to reach $4.4 billion by the end of 2003.
So it’s no wonder the six leading carriers – AT&T Wireless, Cingular Wireless, Nextel, Sprint PCS, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless – have cast a wide look for Hispanic customers. Cingular Wireless lays claim to the Internet portal "Mi Ventana Movil" (www.miventanamovil.com), a Spanish-language version of the company’s "My Wireless Window" site. AT&T Wireless offers subscribers access to the carrier’s Spanish-language Web site. And Sprint PCS and its Mexico-based partner Pegaso PCS recently teamed up to offer Wau.com, a Spanish-language wireless portal.
ON TARGET, IN COMMUNITY
Establishing an online presence is just the tip of the iceberg.
The carriers have planned a barrage of marketing campaigns, product launches, and wireless services aimed at affluent and tech-savvy Hispanics. Strategies differ, but the goal is ultimately the same – to win a beachhead in the U.S. Hispanic market.
Verizon Wireless targets the market by focusing on each community’s cultural nuances and sensibilities. "A lot of companies take [wireless programs] and translate them literally into Spanish, and then cross their fingers and hope and pray that [Hispanics] like them," says Nick Montes, manager of multicultural marketing at Verizon Wireless. "What Verizon is trying to do is market to Spanish-speaking people on their terms with programs that are targeted to them specifically."
To that end, Verizon Wireless has retained RLR Jarrin, a California-based Hispanic advertising agency, to create and execute a Spanish-language print, radio, and television campaign. Verizon Wireless also is gearing up to roll out cell phone service plans featuring special discount rates for calls to Latin America, and the company’s Irvine, California–based call center employs nearly 150 Spanish-speaking customer-service representatives.
Marketers would be hard pressed to find a demographic group as ethnically diverse as the U.S. Hispanic community. That means ad campaigns designed to win the hearts of one Hispanic segment could offend or miss another part of the market.
Besides the obvious national-origin and geographic fragmentation lines, the Hispanic wireless market also is characterized by a cultural rift between the country’s third-generation residents and new immigrants, many of whom lack the financial history and credentials required to activate a wireless account. For this audience, adoption of the English language is a major issue both in marketing and in telecommunication services (see "Language and Markets in the U.S.," December 2002). Also, the wireless landscape is marked by a widening gap between today’s young, tech-savvy Hispanics and their elders.
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