Hispanic TV Summit: In Competitive Market, Content Still Rules

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In a time where competition extends to not only attracting new consumers but retaining them, content will always be the X factor.

That was the principle message steming from "Attracting Loyal Customers and Viewers: The Art and Science of Acquisition, Retention and Tune-in Promotions" panel at B&C/Multichannel News's ninth annual Hispanic TV Summit here Tuesday afternoon.

Laura Dergal, vice president of Univision On Demand said that a highly-competitive market can actually be a good thing because the consumers can dictate what they want, instead of the other way around.

We all need to look at this as a huge opportunity to put the power in the hands of the consumer," said Dergal during the panel, which was moderated by Adrianna Waterston, vice president of marketing and business development of Horowitz Associates. "We're in a time for great diversification." Dergal later explained that viewer empowerment is a big key to Univision's strategy.

Renata Franco, senior manager of segmentation marketing at Cox Communications, said this "new generation of consumers" is lot harder to engage with and get a handle on. "It's the complexity of our audience that has changed," said Franco.

Karen Habib, director, Hispanic marketing and development, Eclipse Marketing, the publisher of Nexos Latinos magazine, chimed in by saying that satellite and other providers, such as Verizon FiOS, have made it a "much more competitive landscape for everybody." She explained that these companies try to woo potential customers with a variety of pricing options that are lower than those proffered by cable operators. Habib said that "offering good value" was the key to retaining customers.

Marisol Martinez de Rodriguez, senior director, target marketing at Time Warner Cable, echoed that statement by noitng that the nation's No. 2 cable operator focuses on "giving our customers what they are passionate about."

Oscar Madrid, director of multicultural marketing at Verizon, said that the difficulties his company faces when trying to get customers to switch to their services, is that many of those rely on their carrier for multiple services -- TV, Internet, and phone.

"It's not an easy sell to get people to pick up and move," said Madrid. He stated that, while Hispanics who subscribe like FiOS, Verizon has yet to capitalize fully on that market. One way the telco is looking to do that, according to Madrid, is transforming the FiOS website into a teaching tool. "The digtial space, if we're not playing in that space today, we're not going to win." said Madrid.

Habib said that the strongest way to gain and retain customers is to make sure what you offer has value: "You offer a product that's robust.. at competitive prices. Then you educate them on how to use your products so they they derive the maximum value."

Renata explained another key to attracting and keeping viewers is to differentiate the U.S. Hispanic market from the traditional Spanish-speaking sector. To that end, Cox tries to do that through marketing and by relating to the U.S Hispanic. "We are their friend," said Renata. "It's better to watch a Univision show on Cox." She said that 25% of Cox's sub growth is emanating from the Hispanic market.

Hector Placencia, senior director of DirecTV Mas and World Direct, also views competition as a good thing. "You start to see the need for [diversified] content," said Placencia, "but it has to be quality."

Time Warner Cable's Rodriguez argued that in order to attract more Hispanic viewers, distributors should look no further than how they market to other subscribers. "[The] Hispanic market is not brain surgery," she said. "We need to follow the same marketing principles we follow in the general market."

"Young Latinos are more reformed, more discerning," said Habib. "They want value for their money."

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