educational

Hispanic More Than a Niche

Rodger Jacobs
Latino and Hispanic Americans represent the fastest-growing online ethnic group with an estimated buying power of more than $500 billion, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

For adult content providers, creators and aggregators with an interest in reaching ethnic groups — or searching for a new and unique revenue stream — the Latin market can be more than a niche, it can be a virtual goldmine. Targeting these consumers, however, is a tricky matter that demands respect for cultural differences between Americans and Latinos.

As evidenced by the abundance of racy programming and advertising in the Spanish-language media — far more risque at times than American broadcasters dare to tread — sex is a significant component in marketing to the Latino community. But "sex" and "porn" are two words that rarely intersect comfortably in the Hispanic world.

Denise Hernandez told XBiz that the adult entertainment industry is antithetical to core cultural beliefs with Latinos. Hernandez is a customer relations specialist with Pure Romance (www.pureromance.com).

Founded in 1993 in Cincinnati by Patty Brisben, Pure Romance offers a line of more than 100 private-label and brand-name bedroom accessories, books, games, adult toys, as well as an exclusive high-quality line of sensual lotions, gels and scents. Products are sold at parties organized by volunteer hostesses.

"Sex in our culture has never been viewed as pleasurable for women," said Hernandez, who spent a portion of her childhood living in Puerto Rico. "It has only been in recent years that Latino women, in whole, have been given the public opportunity to appreciate sex without being viewed as promiscuous."

When Hernandez began working at Pure Romance, she came in with the attitude that sex was never discussed as a function of your relationship but rather as an act of procreation, which makes the marketing of "sexual well-being" and related accessories a tough sell in the Latin community.

"The Latino market has stereotypically shunned the idea surrounding any sexually related 'relationship-enhancement' devices," said Chris Cicchinelli, executive vice president of Pure Romance.

After working with focus groups, Pure Romance found that its marketing efforts needed to tone down the "fix it" pitch that a majority of its Hispanic acculturated customers felt insinuated that monogamous relationships were boring.

"Instead we have to focus on a more positive message that there might be nothing wrong with your relationship — but that things can also get better," Cicchinelli said.

Holistic Wisdom, an online sexual health resource center for women, currently offers its female ejaculation video dubbed in Spanish ("El Lugar y Asombroso y Exclamacion Femenina").

For companies like Pure Romance and Holistic Wisdom, success in the Latino market is all about image — a pristine image.

"Our goal has always been to present Pure Romance as a 'relationship- friendly' environment, making our image clean, classy and not focusing on the sole act of sex," explained Cicchinelli, "but rather on ways to enhance the overall quality of your intimate relationship through the promotion of sexual well-being."

Since 1953, Hugh Hefner's Playboy conglomerate has raked in billions of dollars through the promotion of human sexuality as a positive force. With that attitude driving the ship, the iconic and well-branded Playboy name is a perfect fit for the online community of Hispanic consumers. Playboy Enterprises has aggressively pursued this underserved group through targeted content offerings.

Playboynet Español
In September, Playboy launched PlayboyNet Español, a Spanishlanguage version of "PlayboyNet," a members-only subscription site featuring thematic-based clubs consisting of large gallery and video archives of Playmates, Cyber Girls and other Playboy models. The site is designed to appeal to those Hispanic users who are more comfortable interacting online in Spanish by offering navigation and transaction information as well as customer service in Spanish.

"Based on our customer feedback and the success of our recently launched U.S. television initiative, Playboy en Español, we recognized the importance of reaching this exploding market segment, and this is our first step toward offering a wider array of editorial features in Spanish," President of Playboy.com Randy Nicolau said.

"PlayboyNet is a hugely popular offering of our service, and by reaching out to the Hispanic community in the Spanish language, we hope to strengthen our business by not only attracting new customers but also by building increased brand loyalty among our existing Hispanic users."

PlayboyNet Español is comprised of specialized clubs including Celebridades (Celebrities); Rubias (Blondes); Morenas (Brunettes); Club de Lenceria (Lingerie Club); Universitarias (College Girls); Chicas Internationales (International Women); Naturales (Naturals); Chicas de Playa (Beach Babes); Voluptuosas (Busty Babes); and Playmates.

This fast-growing segment of American consumers is also being courted by New Frontier Media Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiary The Erotic Networks (TEN). In early 2004, TEN began providing a menu of adult videos-on-demand in Spanish.

"Our experience has shown that cable operators are placing greater emphasis on the Spanishspeaking population of the U.S. We feel that the addition of Spanish language content to our current VOD (video-on-demand) package will drive incremental revenues for our VOD partners, especially those with a large Spanish-speaking customer base," said Ken Boenish, president of the Erotic Networks.

If New Frontier is feeling a competitive squeeze in their effort, it's coming from the direction of Private Media Group, which inked a deal in late 2004 with Comcast Corp. to launch Private Latino, a new cable channel for Spanish-speaking adults.

Private's nationwide channel debuted in February. Comcast has over 21.5 million cable subscribers.

The pace of competition for the red-hot Hispanic media market — an audience of 40 million in the United States — is bound to only increase exponentially, but the cultural differences outlined by Denise Hernandez may keep the more "extreme" players in the adult product arena marginalized at best.

"Males and females are brought up differently in Hispanic cultures," observes Chris Cicchinelli of Pure Romance. "The male is typically taught to be a strong person and to be in charge, while the female learns inhibitory lessons about what it means to be a proper woman."

Many analysts observe, however, that adherence to traditional sex roles, especially among Hispanic women, may decrease as immigrants acculturate to the U.S. mainstream.

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