CTAM Panelists: Know Your Customers

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Boston -- Marketers specializing in 50-plus “zoomers,” Hispanics and women Monday warned cable executives that they risk losing their existing market share if they don’t target these segments and cater to their real needs, and not to the myths about them.

“Knowing the customer, that’s the key to running the business,” said panelist Sara Levinson, a cable veteran and president of the women’s group at magazine publisher Rodale, during a CTAM Summit session here on “New Ways to Slice, Dice and Entice New Audiences.”

Levinson and her fellow panelists in part dissected some of the popular misconceptions about several demographic groups that are becoming increasingly important to cable.

To kick off her presentation, Dawn Sweeney, president of AARP Services Inc., said research showed that when people 50 and older were asked what they would do if they had an extra hour each day, the No. 1 response -- 23% -- was to watch an hour of cable or satellite TV. “That came as a big surprise to us,” she added.

She then went through a laundry list of myths -- which have proven to be incorrect -- about consumers 50 and older. Those included the notions that this age group is afraid of computers and technology and loyally sticks to the same brands.

Panelist Gilbert Davila, The Walt Disney Co.’s vice president of multicultural marketing, was instrumental in the launch of ESPN Deportes earlier this year. He described in detail the growing importance of the Hispanic, African-American and Asian populations to all companies that want to sustain their franchises. For example, more than 50% of the current visitors to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., are Hispanic or Asian.

Levinson described how, during a stint at the National Football League, she created marketing strategies and ads to attract more women and kids to the league -- licensed NFL clothing for those segments and backing the Race for the Cure breast-cancer fund-raiser.

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