Retailers vary marketing tactics from one generation of Hispanic shoppers to the next
Marketing to Hispanic consumers is no longer a one-dimensional practice.
First-generation shoppers in this ethnic group should be addressed differently than second- and third-generation Hispanics, retailers told SN.
The former is more inclined to take his or her time, preparing meals from scratch. In comparison, those counting themselves among the latter groups often prefer pre-made products.
Bilingual messaging is important to immigrants while more assimilated Hispanics often speak English and don't require translations. First-generation Hispanics also rely heavily on print ads whereas their children and grandchildren are more influenced by promotions on television and the Internet.
Whatever the topic, retailers should break these shoppers into two distinct groups, said Maria Reyes, senior category manager of Hispanic foods for specialty distributor Tree of Life.
“The first group includes Spanish-speaking consumers who immigrated to the U.S., cook using multiple ingredients and purchase the brands they used to buy in their native countries,” she said. “The second consists of Hispanics who are more assimilated to U.S. culture.”
According to Reyes, most assimilated Hispanics don't have time to prepare full recipes. Many don't even know how. As a result, they are more likely to purchase ready-to-eat fare with a Mexican or Latino flare.
There is an increasing number of SKUs for them to choose from.
For example, Goya has a line of frozens that range from taquitos and tamales to tortillas and empanadas, while El Monterey makes family packs of frozen burritos as well as tornados and quesadillas.
For the pantry, Nueva Cocina makes red beans and rice. There is also Juanita's Foods Hot and Spicy Menudo canned soup, and microwavable bowls by Taco Bell in flavors like salsa chicken and Santa Fe beef.
A large number of assimilated Hispanics in the region prompted Hispanic-format Grande Foods, Cornelius, Ore., to incorporate select mainstream brands into the mix, said owner Tom Evans.
Cheerios, Jif peanut butter and Hamburger Helper are now staples there. Hispanic brand Best Foods' mayonnaise used to sell 50 to 1 over McCormick's lime-flavored mayo at Grande. Today, the numbers are reversed.
In the nonfood sections at United Supermarkets, Lubbock, Texas, first-generation Hispanic shoppers reach for Ariel, FOCA and Roma bagged laundry detergents. Meanwhile, Tide, Downy and anything containing OxiClean are the favorites of assimilated Hispanics, which tend to be younger, said Juan Enchinton, manager of Hispanic innovation.
“Styrofoam plates are purchased more than paper by all types of Hispanics,” he said. “There's been a big increase in sales of disposable dinnerware, including plastic cups, mostly by second-, third- and fourth-generation Hispanics who don't have time to do dishes.”
Dallas-based 7-Eleven stocks mostly mainstream brands. The handful of Hispanic products it carries are integrated with all of the others in the category. According to Irene Sabaja, senior director of Hispanic marketing, it took some experimenting to realize that integrating is the best merchandising strategy.
“We tested 3-foot sections of Hispanic fare at a few locations but shoppers said that made them feel restricted, like they were only welcome in that part of the store,” she said.
Today Takis Fuego tortilla chips are shelved next to bags of Frito-Lay snacks there. Bimbo bread abuts Wonder loaves, and Tapatio sauce can be found in the condiment section near the catsup and mustard.
Most young Hispanics speak English. But supermarkets cannot ignore first-generation shoppers, most of whom speak Spanish exclusively, said Hector Alejandro, purchasing director, Aldi's Denton, Texas, division.
“Aldi airs Spanish-language advertisements on television and radio in parts of southern Florida, Texas and in Chicago,” he said. “We plan to run even more of the same in upcoming years.”
Supermarkets should select a variety of media outlets. That way, they are certain to reach Hispanic consumers of all ages, said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, New York.
“Gen X and Y shoppers in virtually every ethnic group in the U.S. are heavily involved in newer forms of media, like the Internet, while first-generation consumers are more traditional and prefer newspapers and radio,” he said.
Passikoff believes that English can be the language of choice when targeting assimilated Hispanics. But using bilingual messaging across the board guarantees that everyone will comprehend.
Bilingual marketing should be used inside the store as well since Spanish-speaking shoppers might need help navigating, he said.
To manage a complete marketing program aimed at these demographics, it helps to have knowledgeable people in-house, noted Alejandro.
“Retailers must have someone on staff or at least partner with a third-party professional who is familiar with the Hispanic culture,” he said. “This person should be fluent in both English and Spanish, as many words and phrases — like those used in brand messaging — do not translate directly from one language to another.”
Enchinton concurs. He knows that the products Hispanics are attracted to are different from visit to visit. Each new holiday inspires unique purchase patterns. So does the weather.
“Hispanics even buy different things based on the time of the month,” said Enchinton. “At the beginning of the month, they spend more because they have just received paychecks.”
The last week or two, when money is running low, is when they are most likely to turn to private label.
7-Eleven recently put Sabaja in charge of Hispanic marketing for the convenience chain. She chose to begin by targeting a specific Hispanic consumer.
“We're focusing on the male blue collar worker who speaks English as a second language,” she said. “Many work for landscaping and construction companies and don't have a formal place to eat so they use 7-Elevens as their break rooms.”
This shopper not only frequents the chain's stores during lunch breaks, he often stops in for a cup of coffee in the morning and snacks throughout the day.
Supermarket trips, on the other hand, are somewhat different for Hispanics since they're often a family affair, said Passikoff.
“Grocery shopping is a familial activity for members of the Hispanic consumer — first-, second- and third-generation alike,” he said.