If you’ve noticed more Hispanic and Latino shoppers in your store recently, you’re likely not alone. U.S. Census data shows this demographic has grown by 41 percent within the last decade, to more than 50 million people, and represents one in every six residents. Yet even with this dramatic incline, experts say this market remains virtually untapped in the natural and organic space, as store owners and manufacturers grapple with the best way to reach these shoppers.
According to a report from Rockville, Md.-based market research firm Packaged Facts, Hispanics spend an average of 9 percent of their household budgets on foods prepared at home, compared to 7.5 percent for other U.S. consumer segments.
Which products and brands are Latinos and Hispanics looking for, and how can naturals retailers create the best shopping experience? Like any demographic, the viewpoints and experiences within this group are diverse, and answering these questions requires a multipronged approach. Still, there are common threads that tie Latino communities together that retailers should be aware of. “Tradition, family and community are all very important to Hispanic and Latino shoppers,” says Flor Lozano, principal of Synergia Partners, a Union City, Calif.-based research and marketing strategy firm specializing in the Latino market. “If retailers can build trust within this group, they may just have a customer for life.”
Establish meaningful connections
What you do outside your store is just as important as what you do inside, says Elisa Bosley, senior food editor for New Hope’s Delicious Living magazine. Having a presence at festivals and soccer games is a great way to interest Hispanics, but retailers can go even further by supporting the community.
“Sponsor an athletic team or fund a Hispanic student who’s showing promise in X-Y-Z,” Bosley suggests. “You’ll be connecting with that community in a very specific way. That’s how you can gain trust and ultimately encourage these shoppers to come to your store.”
Store circulars should include popular Hispanic foods, Lozano says. Rice, beans, tortillas and fresh produce such as epazote, cilantro, jicama and tomatillos are frequent stars on the Latino dinner table, so try to offer specials.
Providing services such as regular health screenings is another valuable way retailers can build a relationship with this audience. With type 2 diabetes growing at alarming levels, particularly among Latinos and Hispanics, Bosley suggests holding free, bilingual testing for the disease.
Create a welcoming environment
In areas where immigrant and first-generation Hispanics comprise a significant portion of the local population, Lozano and Maria Reyes, category director for Hispanic products at Romeoville, Ill.-based KeHE Distributors, suggest a variety of in-store techniques to help engage these consumers.
- Distribute Hispanic foods throughout the store, not just in one aisle. Not only is this more engaging for all shoppers, but when Hispanics see familiar foods dispersed around the store, it shows you have a vested interest in establishing a long-term relationship.
- Hire Spanish-speaking staff and add bilingual signs. Immigrant shoppers are looking for guidance because American stores are often organized differently than Hispanic and Latino markets.
- Add familiar fruits and vegetables to the produce section and Hispanic cuts in the meat section.
- Add cost-sensitive Hispanic brands as well as organic brands such as Goya, Badia and La Preferida.
Nutrition Business Journal recently published a report on just this topic available here.