PL Buyer: Food Options for the Under-30 Hispanic

Dec 14, 2010

By John N. Frank

Through a special arrangement, what follows is a summary of
a current article from Private Label Buyer, presented here for discussion.

under-30 Hispanic-Americans shares one caveat with selling private label goods
to Hispanics over 30 — lump them all into one demographic
melting pot at your own risk. The good news for food retailers targeting their
private label offerings to that young Hispanic market is that, at least when
it comes to second generation, U.S.-born Hispanics, there’s less brand
loyalty and more openness to try new alternatives, experts agree.

When it comes
to second generation, U.S.-born younger Hispanics, "most
categories are pretty open," said Felipe Korzenny, founder and director
with the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communications at Florida State University.
The younger generation will have taste memories of the ethnic foods they ate
as children but often they won’t want to do the amount of kitchen work
their mothers did to prepare such dishes. So, they’re open to
convenience-oriented ethnic products such as refried beans in cans, something
a recent immigrant Hispanic woman would not consider, Mr. Korzenny said.

and frozen products, another category their immigrant mothers likely seldom,
if ever, shopped in, also present opportunities for ethnic private label offerings
that can appeal to the under-30 crowd with authentic tastes.

"If it tastes like the real thing, it does well with the second generation,"
said David Morse, president and CEO with New American Dimensions, LLC, a multicultural
marketing research firm. Simply positioning ethnic private label as lower-cost
alternatives to name brands is not enough to attract younger Hispanics, he

Rather, it’s about el Sabor, the taste. "Taste trumps price.
Taste is a pillar of Latin culture. Food and flavor are how they identify themselves."

earlier immigrant groups whose second generations tended to turn their backs
on their ethnic cultures, even changing names to become more Americanized,
younger Hispanics want to remain tied to their roots and so continue to eat
ethnic foods while at the same time eating more traditional American fare.

they have children of their own, they teach them about the culture. Third generation
Hispanics will stay connected by learning Spanish and learning as much as possible
about their cultural heritage, a process known as retro acculturalization,
said Mark Ferro, senior account planner with The Integer Group, a brand marketing

For example, Spanish-language marketing is important to the second generation
for a different reason.

"It’s more than a language issue, it’s a cultural issue.
They feel that Spanish is important to them," said Mr. Ferro. Spanish
can be used selectively on packaging for products aimed at second generation
Hispanics. Ingredient lists and other informational communications can be in
English, but words that invoke family, motherhood and other emotional touchstones
should be done in Spanish. "For the second generation, if you put some
Spanish on your package, it says you care about them," says Mr. Morse.

Discussion Questions: What are the challenges for food retailers and brands
in reaching the under-30 Hispanic-American demographic? What first-generation
Hispanic food traditions will likely stay with the second generation and even
future generations?

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4 Comments on "PL Buyer: Food Options for the Under-30 Hispanic"

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John Lofstock
John Lofstock
11 years 5 months ago

As we are seeing in the convenience store industry, the buying power and demand from Hispanic consumers is enormous. So much so that companies like Susser Petroleum (Stripes convenience stores in Texas) has rolled out its Laredo Taco concept to hundreds of stores that features an authentic Mexican food menu that’s been tested and tweaked to appeal to Hispanic consumers. The brand has been extremely successful for the company, especially since it operates so many stores near the Mexican border.

Further inland, c-store chains like 7-Eleven are also embracing Hispanic buying power by adding popular snack items and beverages that have their own displays and POS materials in Spanish. This strategy also is proving to be successful largely because the ethnic items are a hook to sell a growing demographic more things, like phone cards, cigarettes, fuel, etc.

Retailers should be embracing this strategy on a site-by-site basis, rather than taking a cookie cutter approach. It won’t work in some suburban areas with a low Hispanic population, but could prove extremely profitable in others.

Gene Detroyer
11 years 5 months ago

Perhaps the most important point and biggest challenge in Mr. Frank’s commentary is his caveat, that Hispanic is not one demographic group, but many. With that comes a wide variety of ethnic cuisine and tastes.

The second challenge is not to necessarily think of the cuisine as being uniquely purchased by Hispanics. Certain elements of these cuisines will be adapted by the general population as Italian and Chinese have been. Elements of Middle Eastern cuisine are experiencing significant growth as is the use of Indian spices in a variety of dishes.

Carlos Arámbula
11 years 5 months ago
These are two very good questions. The challenge in reaching the under-30 Hispanic consumer market is recognizing that this consumer group is very fluid and rapidly evolving. This means that the “rules” or “axioms” don’t necessarily apply. Retailers and brands need to avoid conducting marketing by template. The Hispanic consumer market (or HCM) will respond differently to every category…the consumer will react differently to segments within the category. While I appreciate the “insights” provided in the article above, I strongly caution anyone reading them to interpret them as doctrine; the marketing world is littered with campaigns that followed template marketing and failed. My advice to all is not to apply “Hispanic Marketing.” Simply apply the marketing discipline to the HCM in the same way you apply it to your mainstream consumer, learn the true insights, and approach the consumer intelligently. The second question about food and traditions is very interesting. Convenience is always an attractive option for any cook with limited time, but not all meals are the same. When time exists, tradition takes on… Read more »
M. Jericho Banks PhD
M. Jericho Banks PhD
11 years 5 months ago
“Food and flavor is how they identify themselves?” I suspect there’s significantly more to Hispanic culture that they consider as strong or even stronger identifiers than food and flavor. Perhaps a more accurate observation would be that Hispanics emphasize and take pride in the flavor of their food. This is a concept with which I can agree. And, it suggests a central question: Have PL suppliers had difficulty creating Hispanic foods with satisfactory “el Sabor, the flavor?” I got two things from this report: 1.) An unsubstantiated inference that manufacturers of PL products aimed at Hispanics need to pay more attention to flavor; 2.) they should put some Spanish language verbiage on their packaging. Got it. And, I’m sure, the PL suppliers got it, too. At least, I know they did in the early 80s when I managed most of the marketing for Safeway’s PL and also their Hispanic advertising. What PL manufacturer would ignore flavor? As a non-Hispanic, I’ve always loved the flavors of the products and more times than not chose products from… Read more »

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