This summer’s World Cup demonstrated the high interest among CPG companies in reaching this audience. Soccer portal Goal.com reported that 40 percent of the brands on its site specifically were targeting Hispanics, while brands such as Chips Ahoy ran ads in Spanish on the website of the U.S. National Soccer Team. Beyond soccer, companies such as JCPenney have recently stated that the Latina consumer represents their main growth engine.
Yet, both businesses and politicians still struggle to hit the right note in targeting this segment. Should they be treated as a distinct and separate market or, increasingly, as part of one pot, the new American consumer? How about differences within the Hispanic community itself, which gives a one-size-fits-all moniker to what is actually a wide range of nationalities and cultures?
There are no easy answers to these questions, but any consumer products CEO serious about his or her company’s growth needs to grapple with them. Here are some things to pay attention to as you develop a business strategy to cater to this growing market.
Speak Their Language
Speaking the same language as Hispanic consumers goes far beyond just creating Spanish-language advertising. We are firmly convinced that the Hispanic marketplace should be addressed with a collective voice.
Hispanic consumption habits have distinct patterns that don’t mirror the general market. CPG companies must understand the common values that unite most Hispanics—their customs, music preferences, preferred media, and beliefs as it relates to your product or service.
As just one example, the U.S. Hispanic population is known to make more frequent trips to the grocery store and to spend more on a monthly basis on perishables than the average U.S. consumer. Some of that is due to the size of Hispanic households, which have more children on average and are more likely to include extended family members. But it also has to do with their preference for fresh foods. The need to appeal to this growing shopper base is clear, but understanding the influences of Hispanic shoppers and cuisine is far more nuanced. Retailers who learn these shoppers’ preferences—particularly in the fresh foods space—will benefit.
Understand the Data
Your marketing department’s understanding of this segment must be data driven. Nielsen reported earlier this year, for example, that Latinos are adopting smartphones faster than other U.S. ethnic and racial groups, which has important implications for technology and digital services companies. Some 72% of Latinos over 18 own smartphones, according to Nielsen, which is almost 10% higher than the national average. And 49% of those polled said they planned to purchase new smartphones in the next six months.
And Yet……Everyone Is Changing
Having said all that, don’t expect things to stay the same. The U.S. consumer is undergoing a profile shift—an economic, social and cultural transformation often dubbed “New Americanism.” The fascinating cross-pollination of media, language, food and culture is bringing a new multicultural consumer to the fore.
Millennial Hispanics, for example, are changing this market as they straddle their own traditions with the American mainstream. Some 64% of Hispanics are now born in the U.S., up from 58% in 2000, according to the 2012 U.S. Census, and 70% of Hispanics identify as bicultural.
Pepsi, for example, has shifted its marketing to the multicultural consumer and in doing so found that Hispanic interests go beyond soccer to an active interest in the NFL.
As the Hispanic-focused agency for the California Milk Processor Board, we recently took a “one market approach,” working with the Board’s English-language agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, on a creative campaign designed to get consumers to buy and drink more milk. We co-developed universal TV spots with voiceovers in English and Spanish to speak to California’s multicultural consumers. One spot featured a black mother and daughter, who could easily have been either Caribbean Hispanic or African American.
As ever, California is on the leading edge for the rest of the country, an indicator that tomorrow’s markets will present CPG companies with exciting new challenges in addressing the new American consumer. CEOs of consumer products companies should be ready.