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Touching the Hispanic Mommy Target
AN INTERVIEW WITH:
Chief Operating Officer, Todobebé
December 08, 2008
Cynthia Nelson is responsible for business and client operations, as well as integrated media plans, partnerships,
marketing, promotions and brand licensing at Todobebé, an online community for Hispanic moms.
Ms. Nelson says the Hispanic market in the US remains largely untapped, and that mothers of young children can
be found chatting online, commenting on forums and interacting with relevant content and promotions. She says
they are also more predisposed than other demographic groups to opting in to surveys and polls.
Prior to Todobebé, Ms. Nelson served as chief strategic officer of Communitá Inc., a Hispanic marketing services
company, managing strategic planning and business development throughout the US and Latin America. She was
on the executive team at Interpublic’s Tribal DDB, New York, and has served in marketing positions at AOL, IBM
Corp., Kraft Foods and USA Networks. She speaks frequently on the subject of Hispanic and integrated media
She spoke with eMarketer about the importance to brands' bottom lines in targeting the Hispanic market.
eMarketer: How would you describe Todobebé and where does it fit into the mix with regard to Hispanic
Cynthia Nelson: Todobebé started out as a Website in 1999 on pregnancy and parenting in Spanish. At the
time, there was no content around pregnancy and parenting for Hispanics other than in a magazine format. We
focus on Spanish-speaking moms ages 18 to 39, whether they’re living [in] the US or Spanish-speaking countries.
We have over 100,000 registered users and an ad-based revenue model. We offer TV, radio and online content
and events related to pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and parenting for moms with kids 0 to age 5.
Our ad partners include P&G’s Pampers, Wal-Mart, Babies “R” Us, Fisher-Price
We produce digital, TV and radio content for syndication; it’s all in-language. Our ad partners include P&G’s
[Procter & Gamble] Pampers [diaper brand] Wal-Mart, Babies “R” Us, Fisher-Price and Clorox. Our TV show is on
Univision, skews a little more to unacculturated moms, whereas the online market skews more acculturated. About
45% of our users are bilingual—they speak some English at home—but they prefer to speak in Spanish and prefer
their online content in Spanish. These women have 2.7 kids on average and their average annual income is
between $35,000 and $50,000.
eMarketer: An eMarketer report on Hispanic media usage notes that Hispanic consumers under the age of 35
spend more time online than they do watching TV and often are doing both at the same time. The report suggests
that Hispanics are heavy users of all digital media. What’s your take?
Ms. Nelson: That’s definitely in line with what we’ve found over the course of the last 10 years. It’s no surprise on
the technology side. Getting a telephone in Mexico, you can wait six months, but you can get a cell phone.
Hispanics went mobile faster because they had to.
They are using digital cameras and Skype, especially as they become parents. They use anything that’s available
to them to communicate about who they are, what they are, to their friends and family. They are communicating
with their friends and family abroad and the technology is easy and cheap to use.
eMarketer: A survey conducted by Insight to Action for the Marketing to Moms Coalition indicates that 51% of
Hispanic female Internet users polled use the Web to research products, 46% to shop for their kids, 42% to shop
for themselves, 41% to plan travel and seek directions, 38% to download coupons and 33% to buy gifts for others.
The findings are very close to Caucasian women. What does the data indicate to you?
[Hispanic moms over-index in buying everything for their kids...Not that
Caucasian parents don't love their kids. But going to a Hispanic baby shower is
like going to a wedding.
Ms. Nelson: They over-index in buying everything for their kids—everything! Not that Caucasian parents don’t love
their kids. But going to a Hispanic baby shower is like going to a wedding. There could be 100 people there. They
definitely are super-active online. Spanish-language couponing only started happening 10 years ago. They react to
online offers more because they’re also in-language.
The great equalizer is a mom is a mom is a mom, whether you’re a CEO or taxi driver. When your baby is crying at
night you want to figure out why and you want to figure it out now. The ages of Hispanic moms on Todobebé are
younger, they have been exposed to technology more and are online more. There live in multigenerational
households, speak Spanish but cross over to English.
eMarketer: Are you finding that the young Hispanic moms are bilingual and do they prefer in-language online
Ms. Nelson: Their consumption of media is interesting. With multiple generations in the home, they are speaking
both Spanish and English. Family is so extremely important to the Hispanic community. If you ask Hispanic moms,
everything is about “my kids and my family, then I’m second.”
More than 50% do not work outside the home. There are a lot more stay-at- home moms. They’re trying to get
information on arts and crafts that they can do at home and entertain their kids. They’re not always able to send
their kids to preschool, so any information they can use to raise their kids is interesting to them. We provide
content on pre-pregnancy and through your pregnancy and all the way to age 5.
eMarketer: To what extent do you offer social networking and how to advertisers tie into that kind of
We have forums for everything from breast-feeding techniques to losing a baby
and sex after having a baby....We do have advertisers in the forums but we’re
Ms. Nelson: Forums have always been huge. We have forums for everything from breast-feeding techniques to
losing a baby and sex after having a baby. They’re able to talk to other moms so they don’t feel alone. We do have
advertisers in the forums but we’re very selective. Sometimes they talk about very private things. Advertisers insert
themselves into certain conversations through banner ads in the forums.
At the heart of what we do is content production and syndication. It’s a model that might be closest to Sesame
Street. We have three sponsors integrated into our TV content that’s distributed by Univision—Wal-Mart, Clorox
eMarketer: What are the biggest misconceptions about the Hispanic consumer market vis-à-vis mothers with
Ms. Nelson: That they don’t have a decision-making capability or money. I think advertisers are really starting to
realize that these moms are influencers. These moms are making decisions everyday about the health and well-
being of their families. They’re the healthcare provider, they’re making really clear choices about brands and the
brands that speak to them—not only in-language, but culturally relevant brands.
eMarketer: What are the key flags in terms of brand affinities for this group?
Ms. Nelson: It’s word of mouth. If a mom likes something, if she’s really happy with a product, she’s going to tell
her friends. And if she doesn’t like it, she’ll tell more of her friends.
Being culturally relevant and in-language is one thing, but providing solutions for moms to know they’re not alone
and understanding from a community perspective that they’re very bonded with one another is another. When you
have a child, everybody plays a role—aunts, moms, sisters, friends. Word of mouth manifests on a social network,
in comments, forums, blogging on the Mi Todobebé area, going to an event.
eMarketer: What are the stumbling blocks for marketers in your category?
Ms. Nelson: Brands are definitely interested in being part of the conversation, but they want to do it in an organic
fashion so they’re not just coming at the consumer selling. We put [advertising] deals together in our newsletter and
forums. Marketers use our vehicles to position themselves as trusted partners.
The brand becomes part of the conversation naturally. We use in-forum [ad]
placements, in the newsletters and we have video channel sponsorship
The brand becomes part of the conversation naturally. We use in-forum [ad] placements, in the newsletters and we
have video channel sponsorship opportunities. We’d like to get involved in mobile couponing in 2009 or maybe
eMarketer: As the economy worsens, which forms of digital media must work harder?
Ms. Nelson: Our online newsletters have good click-through rates. People opt in and you’re already part of a
subgroup. You’re getting those on a weekly basis. We’re expanding the newsletters to be more segment-focused
on topics like health and wellness. We might have a food and nutrition newsletter that could be [sponsored] by a
food company. We could address childhood obesity and diabetes. But we don want to sell out just to get
eMarketer: Have you had a situation where you had to reject an advertiser?
Ms. Nelson: Yes, we had a quick-service restaurant a year ago that had an offer that was a “just go buy it,” but it
wasn’t a nutritional item. Another was a toy manufacturer that was based in Mexico and they didn’t want product
reviews. Well, we publish toy and product recalls because you need to tell this audience about those things. They
didn’t want that. We said, “We really don’t want your money.” It’s a misconception that you don’t need to tell them
about recalls. You need to tell them because they’re moms.
Most Fortune 500 companies come to the conclusion that they can't meet their
national rates or their revenue numbers with 18-to-34 or with kids 0 to 4 unless
they advertise to Hispanics.
In looking at advertisers, most Fortune 500 companies come to the conclusion that they can’t meet their national
rates or their revenue numbers with 18-to-34 or with kids 0 to 4 unless they advertise to Hispanics.
eMarketer: Given the state of the economy, these household budgets are going to tighten. People are losing jobs.
Are you insulated from this because of the advertiser composition?
Ms. Nelson: When you have a child, you may need a new car, but you may decide that it’s not the year to buy it
right now. You can’t get around food purchases, clothing, diapers, etc., and you’re going to go to places that
provide the biggest value.
No one’s insulated. But this segment isn’t going away. It’s just going to get bigger and how they spend their money
and who they choose to spend it with is the real key. Pulling out of the Hispanic market is a death spiral for some
brands. They can’t get the market share if they don’t go there.
eMarketer: What kind of intelligence or research can you do online with this audience?
Ms. Nelson: You can find out things by doing quick surveys and polls, and the findings can suggest to marketers
that maybe there’s a different way to promote this product line or look at how moms are reacting to these
You can do online research easily and quickly. We do online research for advertisers, we’ll have a little poll bar on
the homepage or embedded in a tool or a form. Or when people have signed up to be a host for one of our events,
we ask them questions and ask if they want to be contacted by any of the marketers. Something like 70% say,
“Yes, I would like to be contacted.”