MINNEAPOLIS -- The country's Hispanic population -- previously concentrated in the West, Southwest and Southeast -- is spreading northward and eastward, and right into the local in-store bakery.
Filipe Korzenny, director of the Center for the Study of Hispanic Marketing, Florida State University, and co-founder of the Cheskin research/marketing group, said Hispanics are avid consumers of bakery products.
"The biggest component in the U.S. Hispanic market -- about 67% of it -- is Mexican, and Mexicans are moving throughout the U.S.," Korzenny said. "They're going where the jobs are. The landscape of the market is changing."
He urged retailers to take stock of the demographics in their areas and then -- if there's a significant Hispanic population -- to take advantage of the opportunity presented by developing products popular with Hispanics. He also recommended using bilingual signs to appeal to Hispanics and suggested hiring Hispanics, especially in the bakery.
Strategies like these are critical to winning the confidence of Hispanic shoppers, many of whom are not familiar with larger American supermarkets and may be intimidated by them, Korzenny said.
Unlike some earlier waves of U.S. immigrants, this contingent of Hispanics is not looking to entirely adopt the American way, but is hanging on to hundreds of years of highly valued culture, he said.
It's a young market, too, and that means it's malleable. The median age of Hispanics here is 26, compared to 36 for the U.S. population as a whole.
Korzenny stressed that the acculturation of the Hispanic population here and its youth should be key factors in developing a marketing plan. Hispanics newly arrived in this country are holding on to their native culture and adding American culture to it, Korzenny said, which means Hispanics here will continue to constitute a market different from the mainstream. Their shopping behavior is different.
Korzenny cited Food Marketing Institute statistics showing that Hispanics go to the grocery store 26 times a month, or three times more than the average American. They go to supermarkets most frequently for general grocery shopping, but, he stressed, more than half also shop at specialty retail stores such as bodegas that cater to Hispanics.
"That's to satisfy their bakery needs and other cultural food needs that are not satisfied by the larger supermarkets," Korzenny said.
That particularly presents opportunity for supermarkets because a lot of the small stores catering to Hispanics are not very attractive, Korzenny said.
Freshly baked breads are very popular with the Hispanic consumer. In fact, some Hispanic holidays, such as Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), call for special breads in special shapes. What's more, in earlier International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association-sponsored research, 95% of Hispanic consumers indicated they celebrate the birthdays of family and friends with a cake. And Hispanics have at least 25 celebrations a year, not including personal and regional celebrations, and the celebrations include large quantities of sweet goods, research shows.
Many plan their shopping and compare store advertisements for specials. Nevertheless, they spend an average of $133 a week on groceries, compared with $93 for the overall market, statistics show.
"The census shows 40 million Hispanics here, but if we include those here illegally, it's about 50 million," Korzenny said. "Think of it this way. The Hispanic market in this country makes the United States the second-largest Hispanic country in the world. The first is Mexico, then the U.S., then Spain and Colombia."