NEW YORK: Brand owners like L'Oréal, Wal-Mart and Macy's are heightening their focus on Hispanic shoppers, seen as a key future target audience.

Cosmetics giant L'Oréal USA has partnered with broadcaster Telemundo to create Club de Noveleras specifically for this demographic.

The Club is an online and offline hub for fans of Telemundo telenovelas, such as El Clon and La Reina del Sur.

Garnier, L'Oréal Paris, Matrix and Maybelline New York are among the brands associated with this effort, which has a presence on Facebook alongside an official website.

Jacqueline Hernández, chief operating officer of Telemundo Communications Group, said the Club should allow the firm to "go beyond events" and establish a property that "can go 365 days, 24/7".

Building a web community may also foster deeper relationships with individual viewers, and encourage them to spread word of mouth on portals including Facebook and Twitter.

"Their friends in those universes can start interacting and engaging," Hernández told the New York Times.

L'Oréal carefully assessed which metrics would demonstrate if this project proved a success, beginning simply with the number of subscribers, but potentially extending across a wide range of data.

"For us, Hispanic consumers are a very, very important target," said Marc Speichert, chief marketing officer at L'Oréal USA. "We see it as a growth opportunity for the future."

Elsewhere, retailer Wal-Mart recently "served notice" that it was seeking to leverage "insights and innovation" from manufacturers, and gain ground with Hispanic shoppers.

"We don't consider them a segment of their own, but an integral component of each segment," said Tony Rogers, Wal-Mart's svp, brand marketing. "In a lot of ways, the Hispanic customer is just 'the customer.'"

The company opened two Supermercado de Wal-Mart outlets in Phoenix and Houston two years ago, tailoring assortments to match the requirements of the large Hispanic populations from these areas.

By providing crucial learnings concerning pricing, promotions and merchandising, Supermercado de Wal-Mart branches are delivering vital information about strategies that can be applied nationwide.

"Whether it says 'Supermercado' on the front or not doesn't really matter," said Carla Dodds, Wal-Mart's senior director, multicultural marketing.

"It's more important that we get everything right inside the store."

Department store chain Macy's has adopted a similar approach with the My Macy's platform, incorporating Puerto Rican tastes in New York, Latin American preferences in Miami, and Mexican habits in Texas.

It also advertises through People en Español, Latina, and Cosmo en Español to reach Hispanic customers, and regularly airs spots on Telemundo and rival operator Univision.

"We pretty much try to mirror the general market and give it an Hispanic flair," said Martine Reardon, Macy's evp, marketing and advertising. "With the Hispanic population growing, we're doing a deep dive in our database to understand all ethnicities."

Fox Networks Group has attempted to exploit such shifts by forming a dedicated unit containing three channels: the family-orientated Nat Geo Mundo, Fox Deportes for sports enthusiasts, and lifestyle station Utilisima.

"Advertisers … have told us in no uncertain terms that they are increasing their budgets by double digits for Hispanic spending, and they need new television offerings to absorb those increases," said Hernan Lopez, president, Fox International Channels.

According to official Census figures, the Hispanic population in the US will hit 57.7m people in 2015, up 35.7% on 2010, and 132.8m by 2050.

"It's almost like a country within a country," said Elizabeth Ellers, evp, corporate research, at broadcaster Univision.

Data sourced from New York Times, Wall Street Journal, In-Store Marketing Institute, Women's Wear Daily; additional content by Warc staff