CHICAGO -- Over-the-counter medications, remedies and health aids are key categories for retailers seeking to capture more of the Hispanic market, according to ACNielsen research that will be presented today during the annual Food Marketing Institute Show here.
While Hispanics tend to shop in mainstream supermarkets less than non-Hispanics, they do spend more dollars on OTC purchases there as a percent of their total OTC spending, said Nick Sorvillo, senior vice president, ACNielsen Homescan, Schaumburg, Ill. Sorvillo gave SN an exclusive preview of data and insights that ACNielsen will unveil during the FMI Show.
The data showed that 29% of the total Hispanic population in the Los Angeles area bought their OTC products in supermarkets. This number went up to 35% for those who spoke or preferred to speak Spanish only, while 23% of non-Hispanics bought OTC products in supermarkets.
"The supermarkets have a significant opportunity with a growing, expansive population to build loyalty relationships by helping the Hispanic consumer understand American products and how to use them effectively," Sorvillo said. "That could generate long-term relationships of value to the grocery retailer."
Supermarkets, with their wider selection of products that include health and beauty care and OTC, are the closest retail channel in the United States to the bodegas environment that unacculturated Hispanics are most comfortable with, he noted.
The ACNielsen research was based on four counties in Southern California: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino. The data was taken from the ACNielsen Scantrack retail measurement service and the ACNielsen Homescan Los Angeles Hispanic Panel, which includes 2,000 households and an estimated 6,000 individuals.
The research company found that while 93.3% of non-Hispanic consumers in the L.A. area bought products in the medications, remedies and health aids categories, 84.5% of the total Hispanic population purchased these products. These numbers were lower for those who spoke or preferred to speak Spanish only, 79.3%, and among those who were bilingual, 88.6%. Meanwhile, 96.2% of Hispanics who speak or prefer to speak English only bought in this category, reflecting a high degree of acculturation.
Sorvillo pointed out that there are many more of the non-acculturated Hispanics and, therefore, this group represents the most promise.
Other ACNielsen research highlighted the sales potential of these products to the Hispanic market, Sorvillo said. For example, 49% of Hispanics said they suffer from heartburn, compared to 14% for non-Hispanics. "Yet Hispanics are less likely to buy antacids than non-Hispanics" -- 31.6% to 35.7%. "Here you have a bunch of folks who really are having problems, but you haven't communicated effectively within these categories the benefits that can be drawn from purchasing the products," he said.
Whether through signage, sampling or other educational means, this is an opportunity for supermarkets to win over these customers by providing valuable information, he said.
"If you can get them into the stores, they are going to buy these categories there. So it is worth making the effort in-store to communicate and build educational programs that are meaningful to this community," Sorvillo said.
"Not only could that generate significant business, but also loyalty to the particular establishment because you are educating the individual and offering them a solution to a problem that they have," he said.