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8 lessons in serving the Latino market learned during Expo West 2014

8 lessons in serving the Latino market learned during Expo West 2014

With Latino populations booming in many places outside of historically Hispanic-designated market areas, the Seducing the Involved Latino Shopper session at Natural Products Expo West 2014 offered eight key points to know to reach and serve Latinos.

As Hispanics continue to be one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the United States, it makes perfect sense that business sectors including retail, food and entertainment direct their attention to this important consumer segment.

“Moving forward, the U.S. will become the first major post-industrial society in the world where minorities will be the majority,” Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, a global expert on immigration and dean of UCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, told the Associated Press in December. Latinos, which currently make up 17 percent of the population, will more than double in absolute numbers to reach almost one in three residents, according to the December analysis.

Unfortunately, some businesses just don’t know how to take the right steps to attract the Latino shopper, and some don’t do it at all. But you can’t afford to leave Hispanics out of your business plan just because you don’t know how to talk to them (us) because, guess what, there are other companies—competitors—willing to take the time to understand them (us).

Where do you begin? Roberto Siewczynski, executive vice president of CatapultVista, tackled this subject at the Seducing the Involved Latino Shopper session at Natural Products Expo West earlier this month. Here, I focus on eight points you need to know to get a piece of this important market, sprinkled with my own ideas and recommendations first as a Latina and second as a marketing specialist myself.

Latinos are more than just a language. For so long, marketing companies have focused on reaching Latino shoppers by language, but  the common phrase “se habla Español,” is not only a poorly written phrase but one that speaks, “you don’t understand us.” Listen up retailers and manufacturers: Latinos are more than just a language; you reach us through culture and creating marketing campaigns that are culturally relevant to us.

Take a step back to understand Latino shoppers. Understanding where Latinos are coming from, their habits and how they shop in their countries of origin will give you a better picture of how to get the Hispanic market. Go to the source of why Latinos act certain ways when shopping, and by doing this, you can focus your marketing campaigns effectively.

When you target Latinos, you are not targeting individuals, you are targeting collectives; Latinos shop as a family even when we are alone. Your program needs to be rolled out with face-to-face interactions.

Latinos get inspired by culture. We are bicultural and sometimes tricultural or even more; that means more chances for an occasion (holidays, cultural celebrations, special events) that will get us into your store.

Latinos are more visual. Show your products and their sources, how they came to your shelf. For instance, maybe your product is made by artisans in Africa or by a local farmer. Bring that story to your shopper, connect them with ingredients they can pronounce and feel proud to buy.  

Latinos buy value. Communicate your value proposition. A lot of companies believe that Latinos don’t spend a lot of money on shopping, well we do, it is just that we have to find an item’s value: Why am I going to buy your product and not a generic one that might be cheaper? Make the value of your products crystal clear, identify those points that make them unique and set them apart from the bunch.

Engage your shoppers in the store. Sampling helps tremendously, just make sure that the person managing a station really knows the product and can not only offer a taste but show the value of the product to potential customers. Touch screen panels are a very modern and interactive way to engage with your shoppers as are playing visual, fun engaging videos on a big screen. These technology moves wrap three of these tips into one: Go visual, communicate your value and engage your customer.

The new generation retains the cultural aspect of shopping behaviors. The equation is simple: minorities in general make up almost half of all millennials—with Latinos accounting for nearly 25 percent of them and growing at the fastest pace. Craft your millennial strategy to include the Latinos’ growing population and potential shoppers.

My personal recommendation to you is to develop the strategy and hire a “champion” that not only speaks Spanish, but someone that understands cultura, and knows where Latinos are coming  from in order to maximize your marketing strategy and point it in the right direction.

Daily Baez blogs at and covered Natural Products Expo West as a part of the We.Blog editorial team.

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