The Hispanic Shopper of Today Has Changed. Are Retailers Keeping Up?

Terry J. Soto, Author and President & CEO, About Marketing Solutions, Inc.

Hispanics have been immigrating in large numbers to the United States for decades, but are retailers still using outdated assumptions about this multifaceted segment of the population? With large proportions of Hispanics having been born in the United States and being heavily influenced by both their heritage the American way of life, these consumers are very much of two cultures and often use English and Spanish in their daily lives.

Information from the Pew Research Center shows that the share of foreign-born Hispanics is on the decline. In 2012, only 35.5 percent of Hispanics were born outside of the United States compared to 40.1 percent in 2000, and these figures are even lower when looking only at children.

So what does this mean to retailers? It means the Hispanic shopper of today is a hybrid. For instance, despite the fact that many Hispanics are now U.S.-born, they are clinging to the traditions of their ancestors, particularly in their food and beverage choices. According to The NPD Group, 65 percent of Hispanics in the Millennial generation say they always or often follow traditions when planning and serving meals. This proportion is as large as among Hispanic women overall.

At the same time, it’s important to understand that the Hispanic Millennial shopper of today is not just about Hispanic foods. They have adopted and increasingly appreciate diverse foods from not only other countries, but good old fashion “American” cuisine; though this is mostly a food service dynamic, Hispanic are very accepting of packaged varieties they can enjoy at home.

Today’s Hispanic is also in love with convenience making certain frozen and canned items commonplace in their shopping carts. Today’s Hispanic mom has no qualms about striking a balance between fresh, packaged and frozen.

Today’s Hispanics are also more likely than Non-Hispanic Whites, Asians and Blacks to strongly believe that store brands are a good alternative to name brands. In fact, Nielsen Home Scan data indicates that the top 20 store brand edible and non-edible commodity categories shopped by Hispanics and non-Hispanics align very closely.

In and of themselves, these changes should make retailers and food companies sit up and reexamine what they know and the strategies being implemented as a result. Now the question is where? The answer is, pretty much everywhere. Hispanics have been increasingly migrating from urban to suburban communities for some time. According to the Brookings Institute, in 2010, half of the foreign born population and an even greater share of US born Hispanics lived in suburbs. So, the old thinking of targeting Hispanic store sets concentrated in urban communities hasn’t been valid for a long time. Today’s Hispanic shops urban and suburban stores. This is a game changer for retailers and manufacturers chain wide. Understanding how the majority of today’s Hispanics are different and the fact they are shopping retailers chain wide should directly impact store execution chain wide. This is critical to winning a larger share of today’s Hispanics’ wallet.

Terry Soto is President and CEO of About Marketing Solutions, Inc., a Burbank, California – based strategy consulting firm specializing in helping her clients dramatically improve overall business performance by optimizing their strategies to succeed in the Hispanic market. For more information please visit www.about or send me an email at:


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