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Home Video Speaks Latinos' Language

7 Apr, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

The Latino market is big, and it’s hungry for more and better home entertainment product, panelists and presenters agreed at this week’s second annual DVD En Español Conference in Hollywood, Calif.

Latinos constitute the fastest-growing demographic in the country, making up about 14 percent of the total U.S. population, according to U.S. Census statistics.

And they are voracious consumers of all kinds of media, said Adriana Olivarez, director of media research for Univision Television Group. Latinos watch more TV, listen to more radio and buy more home entertainment product as a percentage of their demographic than their Anglo counterparts, she said. (For more facts and figures on this growing market segment, see page 28).

Still, the avid and rapidly expanding market remains relatively untapped and underserved by the home entertainment industry, panelists acknowledged.

“The category is still in an infant stage, and efforts need to be made to grow the category,” said Julio Noriega, film division manager for Venevision International Films. The market needs a sustained flow of quality content with improved technology and a significant improvement in trade marketing along with more effective retail techniques, he said.

“Retailers need to create a relationship with a community, realize the value of a customer over a lifetime,” he said. “And they need to make a Latino-friendly environment at the point of purchase.”

Retail relationships are key to success
Communication with retail accounts often has to go a step further when it comes to Latino product, said Concepcion Lara, SVP of Ventura Entertainment’s Studio Latino line. That company set up a specific infrastructure to work almost as consultants with retail partners.

Antonio Sosa, VP of multicultural sales at Warner Home Video, said supplier support must exist at the grassroots level, helping retailers with signage, merchandising and turnkey promotions, maximizing the often-smaller resources available for studio-based marketing and promotional campaigns of Latino-themed or Spanish-language titles.

Sometimes it’s a matter of working with the retailers to get specific product in the right configuration in the regions it’s most effective, Sosa added.

Latino content suppliers are eager to help retailers identify the market potential, said Chris Lynch, EVP and GM of Ventura Entertainment.

“We’ve all got to be working in unison to encourage commitment to the expansion of this category,” he said.

Find out what they like
There are many different cultures encompassed within the Latino demographic. In the United States, with one of the largest Latino populations in the world, is a mix of heritages from Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and other Latino countries.

That in itself is a challenge for marketers of entertainment product, said comedian and guest luncheon speaker comedian Carlos Mencia.

His advice? Find a way.

“Go to the common denominator,” he said. “That doesn’t have to be the lowest, it just has to be something they can connect to.”

The Latino culture is vibrant, diverse and very important to the people who make it up, panelists said. There is a need to stay connected to the Spanish language and to cultural tradition in the content they purchase, panelists said. At the same time, suppliers and retailers must deal with the oncoming market impact of third-generation Latinos who also are already deeply acculturated into American society and have a broad range of contemporary tastes.

Still, predominantly, Latinos prefer to watch Spanish-language entertainment content in its original language with subtitles, panelists said. Suppliers can easily provide dubbing or subtitling options with the DVD format, but dubbed content is most popular in kidvid product.

Nostalgia is also an important factor when it comes to video content, especially for first- and second-generation U.S. Latinos, which is why classic films released only in Spanish with no subtitles remain evergreen sellers, said Studio Latino’s Lara.

DVD for everybody
But like any consumer, quality is key to the Latino market.

The Latino consumer responds to and buys “Shrek,” “Spider-Man,” “Harry Potter” titles or other hit releases. If a studio tailors a marketing message for these titles to the Latino consumer, it’s that much better for all parties, said Eva Davis, VP of multicultural marketing for Warner Home Video.

“On a vast majority of everything we release, there is an opportunity to reach out to the Latin consumer,” she said. Davis said Warner estimates 13 percent to 15 percent of the studio’s sales are from Latino consumers.

At Buena Vista Home Entertainment (BVHE), the Latino makeup of the sales market is close to that figure — about 11 percent — said Lori MacPherson, VP of brand marketing and product managing for BVHE.

“For us, the Latino consumer overindexes on family product,” she said. “This consumer has a great affinity for the Disney brand.”

One surprise was the appeal of The Lion King 1-1/2. More than 30 percent of that title’s sales were to the Latino market, she said.

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