Northgate Gonzalez Market, a Hispanic-owned chain that caters primarily to a Hispanic clientele in Southern California, is trying to broaden its appeal to non-Hispanics without losing sight of its primary positioning, a company executive said Wednesday.

Speaking at a seminar during the Sabor Latino trade show in Pasadena, Calif., Mike Hendry, VP of marketing for the 40-store, Anaheim, Calif.-based chain, said, “We don’t want to lose sight of what got us here. But we will continue to diversify our offerings while still carrying the best and freshest tortillas, bolillos, carnitas and tres leches cakes.

“As long as we can bring the same passion and excitement we put into those products as we expand into other items, we’ll do it.”

Asked if Northgate Gonzalez is trying to attract more non-Hispanics, Hendry replied, “We don’t view it that way. We move where our customers move, and as customers become more advanced in terms of their palates, with more acculturation, and as new customers come in, we have to remain relevant.

“So besides the standard Latino items, we also carry new products to offer customers a complete shopping experience because we don’t want them to have to go to other stores to do their full shopping.”


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He said the chain has opened stores in areas ”that are not as densely Hispanic as other store locations,” including South Los Angeles, Culver City and Long Beach, “and we’re really happy with those locations. So it’s no longer a case of going into neighborhoods that are 80% first-generation Hispanics. We’re going for a broader appeal now.”

The stores use bilingual signage, with Spanish on top and English below, Hendry said, and the company uses social media with posts in both English and Spanish, “though we’re still evolving and learning about social media,” he added.

Noting that Hispanics tend to use digital media more than the general population, he said the company hopes to develop more one-to-one targeted efforts. “We’re testing different technologies to see what our customers are willing and not willing to do,” Hendry said.

“We’ve found certain electronic promotions — we don’t call them electronic coupons but simply values without paper — work well. But we don’t want customers to have to sort through 200 or so digital offers, so we need to find a balance to make that process easier and simpler and more culturally effective. No one has cracked that code yet.”

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