Hispanic market good for small businesses, too
Arizona Republic
May. 8, 2006

No matter how you feel politically about the issue of immigration reform, if you're an entrepreneur, you can't ignore one thing: Hispanics in the United States represent a huge marketing opportunity.

Serving Hispanics can be a great business move. One businessman I know had a struggling used-car dealership. Then 20 years ago, he took a chance: He started selling cars to Hispanics, including migrant farm workers, when no one else would. He learned Spanish, hired Spanish-speaking salespeople and extended credit to customers when others wouldn't.

Today, he's a millionaire.

This car dealer learned what many entrepreneurs have realized: Hispanics in the United States have a lot of money to spend.

More than 40 million people in the nation are Hispanic, according to 2004 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. That represents 14 percent of all Americans. More than 25 million of these are of Mexican origin; the rest primarily are from Puerto Rico, Cuba and Central and South America.

Those numbers are going to increase. By the year 2050, about one in every four Americans will be Hispanic, according to figures cited in Advertising Age.

Large businesses certainly recognize the importance of the Hispanic market.
In 2004, $3 billion was spent on advertising by big companies to reach Hispanics, according to HispanTelligence, the research arm of the magazine Hispanic Business.

Generally, Hispanic consumers are young: The median age of Hispanics of Mexican descent in the United States is 25.3 years. That compares with a median age of 36.2 years for the population as a whole. These younger Hispanic consumers have families and homes, thus they need groceries, clothing, hardware. They also buy a lot of entertainment and gadgets.

If your company's customers are businesses, rather than consumers, you can't afford to overlook Hispanics, either. After all, Hispanic-owned businesses increased at three times the national average of all businesses between 1997 and 2002, the Census Bureau reports.

Hispanics are a large market, but, realistically, it's a challenge for a small company to figure out how to serve that market.

The best way to get a piece of the Hispanic market is to go about it the
same way you'd approach any other target market. Sit down and devise a
marketing plan.

First, look for networking groups. Yes, you can join your local Hispanic
Chamber of Commerce even if you're not Hispanic. Sure, you may be
uncomfortable the first meeting or two, but that's true when you join any
new group. Hispanic businesses need your accounting, legal or graphic design
services as much as non-Hispanic companies.

Advertise in local media reaching the Hispanic market. If you don't speak
Spanish, advertise in English. Many English-speaking Hispanics read
Spanish-language publications.

If you want a piece of the huge Hispanic market, you've got to make yourself
visible to that community.

Rhonda Abrams is the author of "Winning Presentation in a Day." To get free
business tips, register at www.PlanningShop.com, or write to her at 555
Bryant St., No. 180, Palo Alto, CA 94301.