Hispanic women today no longer make everything from scratch, so they are looking for more convenience, a Hispanic consultant told an audience at the Sabor Latino trade show in Pasadena, Calif..

“It may not have been true a few years ago, but convenience is at the top of the minds of Latina moms,” Leylha Ahuile, president of PromoLatino, Marina Del Rey, Calif., said. “They want packaged and frozen foods they can adapt to their specific needs.”

Citing various studies to profile Latina mothers, Ahuile said they tend to be younger than mothers in the general population, and though they are English-dominant and bilingual, they enjoy seeing ads and signage with some Spanish mixed with English “because it reminds them of their heritage.”


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They also spend more on groceries than other groups, and their biggest concern is providing nutritious, healthy meals for their families, “which means they tend to read ingredient labels,” Ahuile pointed out.

They also like in-store sampling because it helps them understand a product better, she added, especially if they have a language problem reading labels.

Asked why shoppers so concerned with nutrition still buy salty snacks in such large quantities, Ahuile replied, “While they are concerned with nutrition, Latina moms also want to make their children happy, so if giving them [a snack item] prompts them to eat broccoli, then that’s a positive. But it’s true that childhood obesity and diabetes are big issues among Latinos.”

Latinas are also interested in natural ingredients, Ahuile said, “so they are more likely to buy products with natural sugar than with artificial sweeteners as the lesser of two evils. For them, the less processed ingredients, the better. And while eating natural products may be new in the U.S., it’s been part of the Latin culture for centuries.”

Ahuile said Latinas also use mobile phones more than non-Hispanic mothers, and they’re more apt than non-Hispanics to notice advertising on shopping carts.

When opening a store geared to Hispanic shoppers, Ahuile advised retailers to be bilingual and bicultural. “You probably won’t want things to be too ethnically driven, especially if a lot of second- and third-generation Hispanics will be shopping there. And Hispanic items should be integrated with more general-market items.

“But in general, the store environment is less important to Latina consumers than the product selection and the pricing. And for shoppers who are more aspirational, you may need a mix of high- and low-end products to satisfy those aspirational needs.”

While Latinos generally aren’t interested in loyalty programs, “if you start with a bilingual, bicultural group instead of one that’s Spanish-dominant, you may have more success,” she said. “There’s a trust facto there, and some less acculturated shoppers may be put off by the language barrier. But younger Hispanics are more likely to use anything that’s mobile-based because they are more connected to technology.”

While older Hispanics tend to like reading comments on Facebook — “as long as they don’t have to express their own comments,” Ahuile noted — Twitter may be a more effective medium to communicate with younger Hispanics. “It’s a better platform for promotions, primarily in English,” she said.

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