The same strategy works regionally for Rumbo. "That's the reason we've rolled out so fast, so we can offer advertisers the package," says Publisher Edward Schumacher Matos, who estimates the combined circulation of his four papers at 100,000.
"We can offer national advertisers something they can't do today in the general market, namely, make one ad buy, through one rep, to cover the top three markets," says Hoy's Mr. Diez. "Their ad will appear in a similar editorial environment, with the same page size, in all markets. That gives us a unique sales proposition."
But Mr. Signoret foresees a shake-out that will leave one dominant national Spanish-language newspaper chain. "You'll have what happened in television – one big Univision and a distant second," he says. "Because at the end of the day, someone has to leverage that [national circulation] to capture advertising dollars."
"We might be reaching saturation," says Naveen Donthu, a professor of marketing at Georgia State University with a long interest in the Hispanic consumer market. "When you start seeing publishers taking market share from each other, that can't go on very long."
In addition to the would-be national or regional chains, Mr. Signoret identifies a second category of publisher, those interested in defending or expanding their geographic footprint. The Miami Herald's Spanish-language El Nuevo Herald provides a model that papers such as the Dallas Morning News and Washington Post hope to copy. Mr. Signoret points out that even suburban papers have adopted this strategy. For example, the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, a suburb of Chicago, recently re-launched its weekly Reflejos toreach Hispanics who have moved into its market area.
Mr. Signoret's final category of Hispanic market publishers are local entrepreneurs who spot an opportunity and begin publishing without a larger strategic vision.
But for long-term investors in the market, language retention looms as the big question. A 2004 study by the Pew Hispanic Center found "the share of Latino newspaper readers that gets news only from publications in English is three times larger (62 percent) than the share reading Spanish-language newspapers (21 percent)." On a variety of subjects, Hispanics prefered English to Spanish news by at least a 2-to-1 margin.
"A lot of Hispanic ad agencies made their money selling the Spanish market to Corporate America," says Fernando Diaz, editor-in-chief of the new English-langauge magazine bello. "The future is the bilingual acculturated market. ... The [bilingual] market has existed for decades, and it's only going to grow." At Rumbo, Mr. Schumacher believes Spanish-language print still has a strong upside. "You will always have immigration feeding this market.
The first-generation market, which has grown so much in the past 15 years, will remain Spanish-dominant until the day it dies. Even as the next generation learns English, they will prefer to read in Spanish if they can find a product of decent quality comparable to what they could find in English," he says. If Spanish-language print only gets 40 percent of the Hispanic market's purchasing power, that's still a big slice, Mr. Schumacher says. As to the possibility that English usage will displace readers, he says "that's a real long-term process."
Mr. Whisler maintains that smart publishers can react as the market moves toward English. "Spanish-language print is the wrong term," he cautions. "Every year, 25 to 35 Hispanic newspapers are converting to some sort of bilingual format. These publications will follow those audiences as the market evolves." Instead of language, publishers point to better product quality to retain readers.
"We think we are as good as any newspaper in English," says Mr. Schumacher, a former staffer at The New York Times and executive at The Wall Street Journal Americas edition. "Graphically, we think we are ahead of other newspapers in the country. To my knowledge, we are the only all-color daily in the U.S."
"There aren't enough Latino publications really pushing the envelope on the visual idea of what a magazine can be," says Mr. Diaz of bello. "We like to go deep so by the end of the article, you're not left with a sound bite from People en español. This is a coffee table magazine that leaves you with something intellectual to think about."
Mr. Diez says Hoy uses the printing presses and logistical and administrative infrastructure of sister papers such as the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. He believes improvements in publication quality come from "the financial strength to hire people, develop people, and have a career path for them."
For Mr. Signoret at Hispania Capital, the next phase of Hispanic print lies in magazines. Data from the Latino Print Network show 20 percent growth in the number of magazines between 2000 and 2003. Says Mr. Whisler: "Hispanics are like everybody else – some want a business magazine and others an entertainment one. We are seeing a tremendous growth in both specialized magazines and newspapers for everything from sports to women to automotive to raising children."
"Now we're focusing more on magazines," says Mr. Signoret. "Trade magazines cater to a professional population that is comfortable in English. So [magazines] have the potential to reach not only Hispanic professionals but also a wider professional community."
The new generation of publishers in Hispanic print vary in their goals, from local to global, but they share the sense of opportunity in the market. "For those of us in the Hispanic market, it's no secret that this is the century of Hispanics in the United States. But many advertisers are just beginning to catch on. We project double-digit growth that will far exceed the general market for years," says Mr. Diez at Hoy.
But Mr. Donthu sees a market with increasing corporate ownership, following the pattern of the television industry. "For a long time, there was only one dominant channel, Univision, but then NBC took over Telemundo and has big plans for it," Mr. Donthu says. "I'm seeing the same in all Hispanic media."
|Household Purchasing Power by Language Preference & Income|
|Income Category||English-Dominant HHs ($B)||Percent of Hispanic Purchasing Power||Spanish-Dominant HHs ($B)||Percent of Hispanic Purchasing Power||Total Purchasing Power ($B)|
Average household income of English-dominant Hispanics: $72,870|
Average household income of Spanish-dominant Hispanics: $47,374
|* Adding these items does not equal 100% because 0.5% of Hispanic purchasing power is held by households not dominant in either English or Spanish. Sources: HispanTelligence, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census Bureau, and MediaMark Research's 2004 Database.|
|Hispanic Language Preference in News Media|