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Latinos Embracing the Digital Age

10 Apr, 2007 By: Jessica Wolf

The Latino demographic is pulsing with culture, language dynamics, technology interest and overactive purchasing habits, especially when it comes to consuming entertainment, panelists and presenters said Tuesday at the fourth annual Latino DVD Conference in West Hollywood, Calif.

The 11 million-strong Latino TV households are about at parity with the market at large when it comes to DVD adoption, said Doug Darfield, analyst with The Nielsen Co.

Nearly 83% of Latino households have a DVD player, compared to 87.5% of the non-Latino overall market, he said. The demographic is slower on the uptick for DVR adoption, with just 4.9% of Latino households locked into the time-shifting technology, compared to 9.9% for non-Latino households.

Latinos lead in satellite adoption, however, Darfield said, with 31.4% of Latino households using satellite, compared to 28.6% of the overall population.

"Satellite is the only technology that Hispanics have adopted at a faster rate than the overall population," Darfield said.

About half of Latino households are online. Between 2005 and 2006, broadband adoption in Latino homes increased from 40% to 61%, according to Forrester Research presented at the event, which was produced by Home Media Magazine in cooperation with The Hollywood Reporter, DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group and the Entertainment Merchants Association.

Use of social networking sites among online Latino consumers jumped 20% from 2005 to 2006.

Latinos also rode the wave of online video content that flowed to the Internet in that time frame. Streaming-video usage increased 13% between 2005 and 2006, according to the Forrester study. Downloading videos from sites such as iTunes soared, from 9% in 2005 to 25% in 2006.

Online is definitely the wave of the future for this demographic, just as it is for the overall entertainment, said a group of panelists who focus on that element of the market.

Burhan Fatah, CEO of Sivoo, a Web site creating and delivering Spanish-language content across genres, gives DVD another five years of dominance before most behavior shifts online, primarily via ad-supported video viewing, or FVOD (free video-on-demand).

Already, the Latino market is following the trend toward acquiring long-form, professionally produced video content online and away from the short-burst, user-generated hype of the last year or so, Fatah said.

"Telenovelas, which run 30 minutes long, have a 90% completion rate in online viewing," he said.

It's wrong to lump the Latino consumer into one overall category, said Fernando Espuelas, founder and CEO of Voy.tv, an online community for Latinos, which will be working with upcoming Internet TV service Joost.com.

There are two kinds of Latinos in the country, he said — native-born and immigrants. Media behaviors in those two groups vary vastly. And while most Latinos have a strong emotional connection to the Spanish language, increasing numbers are speaking English, often exclusively, he said.

That's not bad news, he said. That expands the market to include "Latinophiles," consumers who have a connection to Spanish language and culture, but who may be native to the United States, or even non-Latino.

The family dynamic is particularly important to Latino demographic of the market, panelists and presenters said.

Nearly half the Latino households in the country have children in them, compared to one-third of non-Latino households, according to Nielsen research.

A panel of marketing experts talked about strategies that work well when reaching out to the Latino consumer. Grassroots, ground-level campaigns, as well as a physical presence at street festivals and events, create an important tactile connection to movies and entertainment goods, as well as allow for co-branding opportunities with other products and word-of-mouth.

During a panel discussion on the evolving face of Latino content, marketers of Latino DVD said the definition of what constitutes a Latino DVD can be as broad as anything in the Spanish language, or even programs like “The Sopranos” and “Oz” that have strong followings among Latinos.

“Most Latinos like the same big movies and shows as everyone else,” said David Hernandez, director of multicultural marketing with Warner Home Video.

Panelists also noted that while in the past there were geographic pockets where Spanish-language DVDs sold particularly well, such as Southern California, Texas, New York and Florida, the market has now broadened to encompass the entire country.

“It's become a national business,” said Elart Coello, president of Laguna Productions.

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