And while American Hispanics buy about 9 percent of all goods and services sold each year, advertisers spend only 5.4 percent of their total advertising budgets targeting them, said Jim Gentleman, senior vice president at marketing and advertising firm SK+G.
"Advertising spending is beginning to match the purchasing power of the Hispanic market, but it's still trailing behind," Gentleman said. "It's a combination of factors. The 2010 census plays a roll as companies got a good look at the market. Coming out of the recession, even though it has been a slow recovery, marketers are looking for new segments to grow business."
New products, new audience
New consumer groups offer companies the most fertile ground as they pull out of the recession with lean marketing budgets and a renewed focus on efficiency.
The shift already can be seen in local and national marketing strategies. Taco Bell recently announced new "gourmet Mexican" menu items, while Subway introduced a carnitas sandwich. In Nevada, some casinos have bet their future on winning over Hispanics.
Buffalo Bill's in Primm, for example, in February opened Ramon Ayala's Cantina, a restaurant playing off the cache of the Mexican music legend and the latest move in its strategy to attract Hispanics. A few years ago, Buffalo Bill's started catering more to Hispanics, especially those from Southern California, by introducing bus services, Spanish-language playing felts and bilingual dealers.
"Hotels and casinos are now evaluating the way a limited-English consumer can navigate their property, and I've never seen that before," Aguero said. "How easily can I check in? How easily can I sit down at a restaurant? There are also financial institutions creating units focused on Hispanic markets, and grocery stores that are founded by more mainstream stores that are bringing in new lines to better serve Hispanics. It's about crafting a more comfortable buying experience for Hispanic customers, or even Asian customers."
Las Vegas' Asian population is skyrocketing as well, almost doubling over the past decade. Asians now account for 9 percent of Clark County's residents.
Barrientos advised businesses to adapt quickly in expanding marketing campaigns to minority groups because companies that have traditionally served them also are trying to expand their customer base.
"Look at Cardenas, the supermarket," Barrientos said. "They started reaching out to English-speakers and doing better marketing. In a competitive marketplace during a recession, people will look at the bottom line. If Vons is charging twice as much for tomatoes, Cardenas will start to get those customers."
Businesses that fail to make an effort to expand their reach will be left behind, Barrientos said.
"They have to realize that the demographics are changing in the valley," he said. "The Asian and Latino population is growing, and if they're not paying attention to the numbers, they will lose out in the long run."
Media in the game
At the same time companies are enhancing their Hispanic marketing campaigns, options for placing those ads have grown more robust over the past year.
U.S. and foreign media companies are moving fast to capture the Hispanic market and are racing to create new networks and websites to cater to the population.
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