Hispanic Consumers: The New Mainstream?

Messages valuing family, cultural identity resonate with growing demographic

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

Pete Filiaci FARE 2014 (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Foodservice)

Pete Filiaci

GRAPEVINE, Texas --As population data projects near majority status for Hispanics in many major U.S. markets, themes involving family, dual-language households and strong cultural identity are becoming important tools for manufacturers and retailers alike, according to an executive with a marketing firm specializing in the demographic.

Everything from advertising concepts to flavor profiles are changing in response to the nation's growing Hispanic population, said Pete Filiaci, vice president, strategy and insights group at Univision, a New York City-based marketing and research firm.

Speaking before about 1,000 attendees at FARE 2014, the foodservice retailing conference and trade show hosted by CSP Business Media, Filiaci cited U.S. Census figures and other research revealing the importance of the demographic, its traits and important visual and verbal cues that resonate.

Reaching this demographic "is not an afterthought," Filiaci said. "Ask the question, 'What about the Hispanic consumer?' How are you measuring and accounting for them in the development of your products, services … and media?"

Companies like Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble and Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's have prioritized the demographic, making focused appeals in ad campaigns and with new-product development.

Citing statistics from a number of research firms, Filiaci said many themes ring true within the Hispanic audience. Among them:

  • Family. Hispanic households tend to be multi-generational, with young parents being concerned about the safety of their children and the cost of feeding a larger number of people going out to eat.
  • Cultural ties. Identifying with specific Spanish-speaking cultures--from Mexican to Puerto Rican, Guatemalan to Cuban--as well as influences including music, food and even street slang, all play a part in making relevant appeals.
  • Ties to millennials. While differences exist, much of the traits attributed to Hispanics also mirror those of the younger generation at large, including a tendency to consume more alcoholic beverages and the use of technology and social media to a greater degree.

In terms of how the data translates to the foodservice experience both in terms of menu choices and the retail environment, Filiaci said factors such as kid friendliness, smaller portions, ethnic authenticity and the perception of freshness are important, as are issues such as seating for multiple people. Things like movable tables and menu variety for large parties become important, he said.

Among the data trends Filiaci pointed to were declining population growth among non-Hispanic whites, and the exponential growth of the Hispanic population both in terms of overall growth and growth in the 18 to 34 age group.

Hispanics also over indexed other demographic groups in terms of frequency of visits to foodservice establishments as well as higher ticket-ring averages. Newer studies examining Spanish-speaking consumers bump those numbers up even higher, he noted.

Currently, one in five people in the United States is Hispanic. In New York and Chicago, it's one in four; in Dallas and San Francisco, it's one in three, while in Los Angeles and Miami, it's one in two.

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
View More Articles By Angel Abcede