Featured Articles

Plug in the Hispanic Internet

Working models for communicating with Hispanics through online venues can guide businesses over the threshold into the new age of technological advancements and a way to connect to online Latino shoppers.

I’ve seen it before and it still surprises me. The insights of an underdog open unexpected doors for Internet consumers and yank the rug right out from under the dominant providers of the day. Remember – AOL, Microsoft, MySpace, and Yahoo. Falling prey to their own complacency about a fast changing Internet culture these powerhouses failed to address the needs of their own audience. And in walked – Apple, Facebook, and Google – providing services that consumers didn’t even know they wanted. Well, you know the rest of the story … for now.

Online Latino Shopper

The Internet audience is changing – fast. More than many other groups, Hispanics go online to socialize, find good deals and purchase new products. Latinos are the fastest growing demographic on the Web, the heaviest users of wireless access to mobile phones and laptops, and 80 percent of Latinos socialize online.

According to Nielsen, Hispanic shoppers spent $125 billion on consumer packaged goods products last year. This shopping power will soon translate online, as the buying power of Hispanics in the U.S. and Caribbean will increase twice as fast as the U.S. general market in the next few years.

These factors create a lucrative opportunity for businesses that want a closer connection with online Latino shoppers.

Cultural Relevancy

Businesses targeting online Hispanic consumers should take into account specific cultural differences and ethnic preferences. For example, according to the Pew Hispanic Center’s National Survey of Latinos, more than half of Latinos ages 16 to 25 identify themselves first by their family’s country of origin, and an additional 20 percent generally use the terms “Hispanic” or “Latino” first when describing themselves. They are satisfied with their lives, optimistic about their futures and place a high value on education, hard work and career success. A valuable market indeed.

Digital Divide No Más

In walks CompraLatino (www.compralatino.com). Founded in 2008 by online shopping pioneer Eddie Batiz, this e-commerce company has strategically planted its Internet roots in the fertile soil of the online Latin shopping culture.

Batiz has been at the forefront of online communities and e-commerce. He foresaw that Hispanic would consume more Internet than the general market. Through a partnership with Casiano Communications, a Puerto Rico-based news media company, they have built CompraCaribe (www.compracaribe.com), a uniquely Hispanic online marketplace forum where shoppers can find and purchase top-branded products and services from Latino Businesses.

Eddie Batiz did not need to wait for the release of the Census data to understand that the Internet is important in Hispanics’ daily lives. This year, 29.6 million Hispanics—nearly 60% of the Hispanic population—will go online at least once a month. By 2014, 39.2 million Hispanics will be online.

“Mercado Central Meets Amazon.com”

Based on the “Mercado Central” Hispanic shopping tradition, CompraCaribe’s Latino-focused marketplace helps businesses find customers and each other. The bilingual online community offers businesses a way to sell worldwide and offers business directories and online stores.

More businesses are incorporating online communities within their corporate strategy. As these arenas increasingly become a fundamental component for professional success, businesses should look to experts like Eddie Batiz on the forefront of this industry to understand the extent of the benefits e-commerce tactics have to offer.

A Brave New Web

Online Hispanic shoppers will continue to be an important part of the economic system. Latinos’ affinity for technologies that ease communicating across geographic boundaries, allow interaction, build communities for like-minded individuals will affect the way businesses approach e-commerce.

Entrepreneurs such as Eddie Batiz have been aware of the vitality of communicating with Latinos through technology for years. He has built his career around empowering people through technology, and information particularly among Hispanics.

Experts with established working models for communicating with Hispanics through technologies can guide the business world over the threshold into the new age of technological advancements and a way to connect to online Latino shoppers.

By Lucía Tovar-Matthews 05/19/11

Santa Cecilia Orchestra 2011

It was an honor to talk with Maestra Sonia Marie De León de Vega of the Los Angeles-based Santa Cecilia Orchestra about the next concert of the continuing 2010-2011 season. The event is taking place at the Center for the Arts, Los Angeles on Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 8:00 p.m., Tickets priced at $20 and $12 (youth, 17 and under). The chamber concert will feature music by Chopin, Rachmoninov, Beethoven, Piazzolla, Schumann and Mendelssohn. Associate concertmaster Yi-Huan Zhao and SCO cellist Beth Park- Zhao will join special guest artist, pianist Natasha Marin.

Natasha (Rubin) Marin was accepted to the Special Music School for Gifted Children (one of several such schools in the entire former USSR). Her education continued with Professor Leonid Sintsev, under whom she graduated from the Rimsky-Korsakov Music College. Natasha also studied privately with Professor Vitaly Margulis. She performs extensively in Russia and in the United States. She is married to actor/comedian Cheech Marin.

It is time to forget the old fashioned notion of classical music because Maestra Sonia Marie De León de Vega is taking the music to children and families in more of a world view.

Santa Cecilia Orchestra and its nationally acclaimed “Discovering Music” program has a specific mission to take classical music into Latino communities. The mission is to expose families and children to the symphony orchestra, provide instruments and free music lessons in the hope that students may get turned on to classical music. The current program is based in sixteen schools in Los Angeles. The hope is to expand the program gradually to other local communities.

It has been a lot of work and the reward for the orchestra is introducing the children and young adults to the violin, cello and the many other instruments they have never even heard of.

In this Featured Article noted symphony and opera conductor Maestra Sonia Marie De León de Vega discusses her journey as a woman in a groundbreaking career role and as a leading influence in the growing U.S. Latino culture.

Sonia Marie De León de Vega was born in San Antonio, Texas but raised in Los Angeles since the age of four. She began taking piano lessons at the age of five inspired by her father who was a musician. She fell in love with classical music at the age of six and began to play it on the piano. She went to college as a music major in piano performance and then she discovered instrumental conducting which became her graduate degree. It was her teachers that told her that she had a natural talent for conducting. Eventually, that led to being a professional conductor who also happened to be one of the few Latina women conductors.

Her first professionally conducted symphony was La bohème by Puccini which was a positive experience for her on stage. But the road has been difficult because it was a profession dominated by men. Early on while she was studying she was told that “A woman would not be accepted on stage conducting a symphony orchestra in our lifetime”. She recalls “I had that going against me and had to prove that wrong. Even today, there are still not too many women and there is definitely not many Latina conductors.”

De León de Vega feels that state of women and Latinas are definitely a minority in symphony orchestra “Because music is cut out in our communities and our schools that we go to.”

Thankfully her stature and commitment to community is being fostered by the “Discovering Music” program. She spoke about discovering the direction of the program while on tour:

“As I was conducting throughout Italy, Mexico and other parts of the world. I noticed that there were a lot of families that went to the concerts. Here in the United States though, you would only see mostly older people and not as many families and you definitely didn’t see many Latinos if any at the concerts here. So, I wanted to change that.

It was natural for me to reach out to Latinos but adults already have their tastes of what they do and don’t like. Children are always so open to new things. I found that the best way is going through the children. They are the ones that bring the parents to the concert instead of the other way around. It is the children that discover us first in their schools through the ‘Discovering Music’ program. They are then invited to the orchestra concert in hopes that they will make it a family experience.”

De León de Vega is celebrated in educational circles for creating the dynamic “Discovering Music” program which also includes a choral component with weekly choral rehearsals with three community children choirs and two yearly presentations in such venues as Thorne Hall at Occidental College.

In the end though, it is not enough to create the musicians but also raise awareness that great music needs an audience. Culture is for everyone and De León de Vega can sum it up in her own words:

“We get so busy with our lives but I think it is important to make time to expose yourself and your family to culture. My son is 12 years old today. Back when he was born while still under a year old I immediately started taking him to museums.

So what happens is by the time they realize what is going on in their lives they have always been familiar with museums, art, great music and libraries. When you fill a child’s life or a person’s life with culture you are putting a lot of beauty into their life.

As adults we need to realize that it is not about rushing around to appointments and just going to work. It is also about taking some time to go to a concert, museums to see some great art, hear some great music and put it in our lives. That is what I believe is important.”

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The influence of Generation Ñ

As the U.S. Hispanic market reaches a tipping point. Current trends suggest expanding influence will blur the lines giving the Hispanic and general markets the ability to collide. The resulting merger will reveal a new, younger American consumer market with a heightened element of Latino flair. Here is the Featured Article by Richie and Lucía Matthews.

Approximately one in six Americans is of Hispanic descent or origin. More than half are under the age of 26 and by 2020, the number of Hispanic teens is expected to increase by 62 percent as compared to 10 percent growth in the number of teens overall. Hispanic youth are a powerful consumer force underlining the Latino presence in general consumer market culture. Typically English speaking, or at English preferred, socially connected and heavy technology users, Latino teens, “Generation Ñ” are leading the way in general market infiltration.

However, one of the most startling facts is that for the first time, Hispanic births have surpassed the total number of Anglo births in many counties across the nation. The future of the general market may be upon us.

To keep up with the Hispanic baby boom, more businesses are courting young, tech savvy Hispanic consumers; incorporating online communities and social networks within their corporate marketing strategy. As these domains increasingly become a fundamental component for professional success, local companies are looking to experts on the forefront of this industry to understand the extent of the benefits Web 2.0 tactics have to offer.

Technology and innovation have been driving forces for increased interconnectivity. Many young, socially connected Hispanics are on the forefront of this new society. Their affinity for Internet technologies will advance Latinos as business strategies are increasingly built within online models.

The growing impact of the Hispanic community online is an area requiring enhanced corporate attention. U.S. Hispanic purchasing power is projected to reach as much as $1.3 trillion by 2015. During the past decade, the rate of growth was more than two times the overall national rate. That is a rate worth targeting. The considerably young, up-and-coming Hispanic population has been dubbed media mavens for their avid technology and internet usage and thus can be successfully reached through online strategies.

Some entrepreneurs and consumer brands have been aware of the vitality of communicating with Latinos through technology for years. In June, Sprint rolled out EVO, the First 4G phone in the U.S. To lead this consumer technology race, Sprint has coupled the power of crowd sourcing and social media with Hispanic kids. Sprint is coopting Latino youth to help propel EVO’s brand message. Sprint’s EVO efforts began with young Hispanic consumers by initiating interaction with their product. Since EVO’s HD video allows consumers to capture and share live video via the Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, social media maven took to the product immediately as ambassadors to other Generation Ñ influencers. By sourcing and leveraging young Latino consumers Sprint receives better insight into the culturally relevant nuances of Generation Ñ and the overall Hispanic consumer segment.

Entrepreneur Eddie Batiz has built his career around empowering young people through media, technology, and information particularly among Hispanics. Through www.compralatino.com Batiz is tapping into the online retail market among Hispanic consumers by using an “Amazon meets Mercado Central” model. The Compralatino model is transparent and empowering for many of its users. Batiz has been at the forefront of online communities and social networks by not manipulating or degrading his customer’s conversation. His users receive positive word-of-mouth around their brand through a viral loop model: turning selected consumers into spontaneous carriers of the message.

Hispanics will continue to be a critical part of the U.S. economic system. This segment’s affinity for technologies that ease communicating across geographic boundaries, allow interaction, build communities for like-minded individuals and provide entertainment will affect the way companies approach business.

Marketers with established working models for communicating with Hispanics through technologies can guide the corporate world over the threshold into the new age of technological advancements.

Those who have a stake in understanding the U.S. market should pay enhanced attention to the nuances and complexities of the Latino population. U.S. Hispanics assimilate while maintaining strong ties to cultural traditions and value systems. The resulting assimilated segment is permeating boundaries and forever changing the American consumer market.

Richie and Lucía Matthews have carved out a niche as leaders within the Hispanic PR sector, working for both causes and corporations and connecting Hispanic consumers with brands. They are each co-directors of DIÁLOGO, an award-winning full service PR firm that helps organizations to significantly enhance their brand and identity with Hispanic audiences. Photo by istockphoto.com

The Latino Wine Love Affair

A “new generación” of 21 and over Latinos are discovering wine by the millions. 7 million since 2005, It is becoming a love affair and continues to grow year after year . Leticia Chacon Rodriguez, Premium Winemaker of Beringer Vineyards recently helped us discover what makes a good wine, her journey in a male dominated profession, her successes and how Beringer.com is posed to open a website in español on October 1, 2010.

Leticia Chacon Rodriguez is helping to create a platform in which Latino wine lovers can best pair wines with favorite traditional dishes. She asks of a “new generación” that they be adventurous and find the best pairing that works for them.

She notes that:
* A robust cabernet sauvignon paired with milanesa de res is the perfect choice. The balance of aromas helps enrich the flavors in the meat.

* Pairing a white zinfandel with lomo de puerco en chile verde with its strawberry and citric flavor, helps balance out the heat in spicy dishes.

* Having a Chardonnay citric wine is perfect with the fresh and vibrant flavors of a Pescado Veracruzano.

Does that still sound too complicated? Well, the best part is that all the learning will be delicious. Letcia’s history should relax you even more because her knowledge is going to help a larger audience take a shortcut in their education of red and a white wines.

Leticia was born and raised in Mexico City in a simple family. It is easy to see that her future was not really poised to become an industry leader and the only Mexican born Premium Winemaker for one of Napa Valley’s most iconic wineries Beringer Vinyards.

Leticia’s journey was tough at first. Beginning, back in 1991 after graduating with a BS in Chemical Engineering from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, it was plain to see the jobs in science and chemical engineering were male-dominated.

She took it all step by step and eventually was offered a position at Allied Domecq in Mexico City as Assistant Manager/Winemaker. The position opened up an entirely new reality for her. She exclaims “My enthusiasm and passion for wine started there,” remembering “The combination of science and the art of winemaking inspired me to pursue a career in winemaking. Through winemaking I can bring science to life and see my work develop right before my eyes. It’s gratifying to then enjoy the fruits of my labor with a delicious bottle of wine!”

Leticia moved on to UC Davis where she expanded her education and enology skills. She started the master program for Enology and Viticulture (En Inglés: The study of the making of wine and the cultivation of grapes.) with the help of a scholarship.

In 2000, after receiving her MS in Food Science with Enology Emphasis from UC Davis, She sought out a position in Baja California. In that job search she again encountered difficulty in her field. By making the decision to stay in California and pursue her passion she came across Beringer Vineyards. Beginning in the positions of Assistant Winemaker and Winemaker in the Central Coast and Central Valley. Eventually, she worked her way up to the position she holds today as Premium Winemaker.

Leticia also shares her knowledge of wine in both english and spanish as Second Vice President of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture ( http://asev.org/ ).

The ASEV promotes industry vitality through the exchange of information and the support of research and education. They are committed to providing diverse membership with resources for continuous improvement and professional growth. They also have a scholarship program for students studying enology, viticulture or a directly related field offered to eligible students throughout North America.

She is also a co-founder of “Spanish Track,” a joint session conducted in Spanish within the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium (UW&GS), the largest wine and grape conference in the nation.

She is also a proud mother and loving wife. Leticia adds, “Being a mother is the best job in the world next to winemaking.”

To discover more about wine quality, pairings, tastings or tours visit www.Beringer.com. Then when you want to share that información en español it will be even easier on October 1, 2010 when they launch www.Beringer.com/espanol.




Photo: Beringer White Zinfandel paired with lomo de puerco en chile verde. ©Beringer 2010

Written by Albert Ornelas

Leading Latino Business Association Launching First National Bilingual B2B Platform

The Hispanic Chamber of E-Commerce (HISCEC) has announced the launch of its new website with a selected group of beta testers. The bilingual B2B platform combines powerful e-commerce and marketing tools with social networking applications and a website building program. Hiscec.com is now uniquely able to provide companies targeting Hispanic businesses and consumers on-demand solutions previously unavailable in one bilingual platform.

Delivering on users’ desire to drive online sales and improve communication in one website, HISCEC’s proprietary development framework integrates social networking, e-commerce, and online marketing applications. The site also includes a shopping marketplace where all the products and services offered by the members of the HISCEC will be listed.

HISCEC member, MexInsurance.com plans to take advantage of the e-commerce apps. “We are very excited about this new platform,” said Chuck Lundy, CEO of MexInsurance.com. “We manage a large amount of e-commerce data, so the ability to house that information will help us sell and transact online.”

HISCEC members are enthusiastic about the benefits of the new platform, which will officially launch to the public during the 2010 Hispanic Business Showcase September 10 and 11 in San Diego. The new platform moves companies to a behavioral marketing approach, making it easier to develop campaigns that respond to individual interests and needs.

“As a Hispanic multi-platform media outlet we are aware of the growth and importance of E-Commerce among our community and we are very excited to be a part of this event,” said Univision San Diego KBNT Director of Operations & Creative Services, Robert Moutal, a HISCEC strategic partner. “We are very proud to sponsor the 2010 Hispanic Business Showcase this coming September.”

“Our members overwhelmingly agree that solutions supporting marketing and communication should come together into a single, scalable platform,” said Tayde Aburto, President of The Hispanic Chamber of E-Commerce. “It’s the most powerful integrated digital business tool, available in English and in Spanish.”

Written by Richie Matthews


San Diego Thrives Through Hispanic Business

The City’s reputation as the detour location for Hispanic commerce continues to grow.

Written by: Ramon Toledo and Richie Matthews

Propelled by a thriving Hispanic business presence, many business sectors in San Diego have remained comparatively stable during recent down economic times.

As the Hispanic market plays an increasingly integral role in the overall U.S. economy, San Diego’s convenient location across from the Mexican border and large Hispanic population, ranked 10th in the nation, has positively contributed to the city’s success. As more and more Hispanic entrepreneurs and Hispanic-focused businesses flock to the city, San Diego’s reputation as the U.S. hub for Hispanic commerce has also grown.

Hispanic-owned businesses are increasing at a rate triple that of the national average. According to the 2002 U.S. Census calculations, Hispanics owned about 35,000 businesses in San Diego County and about 23,000 in Riverside County. Nationally, Hispanics owned about 2.7 million businesses, a figure expected to swell to 4.2 million by 2012.

In San Diego, technology is the driving force behind the Hispanic business boom. Internet-based organizations proliferate in both Hispanic consumer and business-to-business markets as they ease in-market communication, geographic boundary crossing, networking and increase accessibility.

Many San Diego-based Hispanic companies are finding success in online business strategies. MexGrocer.com LLC is the nation’s leading online Hispanic grocer. With more than 70 percent of American households, including both Hispanic and general market, purchasing ethnic food products, MexGrocer.com is well-positioned to benefit from an increase in demand.

BuscaCorp.com is an online Hispanic entertainment network that provides a family of Web sites on the cutting edge of technology. Based in La Jolla, with branches in Tijuana, Mexico City and Santiago, Chile, the company recently signed a deal to become the official video gaming channel for MSN Latino.

Conferences Coming to Area

The Hispanic Chamber of E-Commerce, aka HISCEC, is another San Diego organization adding to the quality of the area’s Hispanic business scene. The HISCEC is an online business association focused on promoting Hispanic businesses via the Internet and the use of its own software applications that it offers for free. The chamber accumulated more than 750 businesses and professional members in its first year. To further support Hispanic business and the use of Internet and e-business tools, the HISCEC is hosting the 2010 Business and Technology Expo on Sept. 10 and 11 at the San Diego Convention Center.

Mexico Insurance Services Inc., a San Diego company and leading Internet insurance provider of commuter auto insurance for Mexico, changed the cross border insurance model six years ago by allowing customers to purchase insurance online when planning to drive into Mexico.

The city has been increasingly recognized as the detour location for Hispanic commerce. This acknowledgment is evident by the increased amount of Hispanic-oriented conferences being held in the area such as the recent Hispanic National Bar Association Mid-Year Conference and the upcoming Latin American Energy Conference.

As the role of the Hispanic community grows, so will the economies of metropolises with established Hispanic commerce.

Ramon Toledo served as the director of foreign capital for both the Probursa and Inverlat brokerage houses; and is the CEO of Busca. Richie Matthews leads communications at the DiálogoPR offices in La Jolla and has carved out a niche as a leader within the Hispanic public relations sector.

Impact of Latina Entrepreneurs

Women’s History Month Highlights Latina Entrepreneurs’ Impact on the U.S. Business Scene

The National Women’s History Project (NWHP) brings the contributions of Latinas to the forefront of public discourse.

(March 2010) Over the years Latina entrepreneurs have made a strong impact on the U.S. business scene. The Hispanic population is the largest and fastest growing minority group. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Hispanic population was 46.9 million in 2008, a 3.2 percent increase from 2007, meaning almost one in six American is of Hispanic descent.  The large Hispanic influence has resulted in an economy robust with innovative Latina entrepreneurs.  This month is Women’s History Month and various individuals, organizations and institutions are putting forth efforts towards recognizing the importance of female societal contributions.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the National Women’s History Project (NWHP), which serves as a catalyst for promoting women as leaders and influential societal forces.  The focus for this year’s theme is ‘Writing Women Back into History’. Mainstream historical accounts have largely undermined female contributions in society.  The accomplishments of minorities tend to also receive a diminished role in typical historical reports. Therefore, Latinas face a double discrimination.

To honor the theme the NWHP has developed a nation-wide program highlighting outstanding women and their achievements.  The organization places an emphasis on featuring positive role models and the importance of women from all backgrounds.

According to the NWHP, when the effort began in the eighties less than 3% of the content of teacher training textbooks mentioned the contributions of women and when included, women were usually written in as mere footnotes.  Women were deprived of female role models.  Today the web contains millions of citations professing the accomplishments of women and Latinas specifically.

Accrediting women for the work they have done opens doors for other women to follow their lead. Lisa Garcia-Ruiz, founder of The Grant Hunter, a consulting service that helps its clients seek funding sources, was motivated by the accomplishments of others.

“I have been inspired by other strong women entrepreneurs who have been able to create a business that allows them to make a difference, make money and have time for their families as well,” Ruiz said.

For Latinas culture is an important influence in business endeavors and thus should be celebrated as playing a part in their success.  Lilian de la Torre-Jiménez, Publisher of Bodas USA La Revista, the first Spanish-language bridal magazine in the U.S., notes the significance her Hispanic heritage has on her business.

“Being Hispanic is the foundation and the heart of my business” Torre-Jiménez said.  “Our motto says it all: Tu Boda, Tu Cultura, Tu Idioma (Your Wedding, Your Culture, Your Language).”  With that same approach of catering to Latinas with a culturally appropriate multimedia platform, the publisher is launching her third magazine, Mujer Empresaria, the first Spanish-language digital magazine for the U.S. Latina Entrepreneur in mid-2010.

Culture-infused Latina companies are able to speak to the ever-growing Hispanic population.  Mainstream companies devise heavily budgeted plans to reach this lucrative demographic but oftentimes fall short of communicating with cultural relevancy.  Latina entrepreneurs such as Molly Robbins, founder of fashion brands Palomita and Chucho, understands the nuances of her Latino culture.

“The Latino culture embraces a ‘love for life’ in a compassionate and passionate way.  We love our music, colors, food, family and friends,” Robbins said.  Her clothing line embraces this culture.  “I wanted to create brands that truly resonated with the Latino community.”

Latina entrepreneurs have found alternative solutions to breaking down the barriers to success for minority business owners.  Networking online through organizations such as the Hispanic Chamber of E-Commerce provides access to knowledge and resources that help promote Latina business.

“The Hispanic Chamber of E-Commerce has given online Hispanic-focused businesses a forum to come together and promote their product or services in a professional manner,” Martha Alburquerque, developer of Lela Luxe, an online magazine dedicated to the latest fashion, art, design and entertainment.  “Stumbling upon the organization has inspired me to continue my efforts, despite being a minority in the world of blogging.”

Another important aspect attributing to the success of Latina business is their competencies in communicating in multicultural environments.  The U.S. is an increasingly diverse playground for business transactions.  Creator of networking focused company Opening Latino Doors LLC, Lourdes Sampera Tsukada, articulates the importance of multicultural understandings.

“When one is doing business or interacting with small business owners from another culture, communication styles vary,” Sampera Tsukada said.  “We are no longer doing business with the same culture and the same generations – we are doing business with many different cultures, generations, and forms of communications.  The awareness of these key components is the key to future continued success!”

Women will have an increasingly prominent role in U.S. business.  As the U.S. Hispanic population continues to grow much of this transformation will be made by Latinas.  The contributions of Latina entrepreneurs should be recognized to encourage the entrepreneurial pursuits of younger generations.  The result of such efforts will have a positive impact on the future of the U.S. business world.

Lucía Matthews is a freelance writer and director of DiálogoPR, a leader within the Hispanic public relations sector.

Alice Gomez is a public relations counselor at DiálogoPR and a published writer who has contributed numerous feature, news and technical articles.