Consider the case of Jacksonville, Florida-based Southeastern Grocers, which five years ago was losing market share to independent grocery stores in markets heavily populated by Hispanics. Since then the chain has opened 27 stores in Hispanic neighborhoods and has completely revamped its approach to marketing to the customer segment.        

Speaking at the Chicken Marketing Summit, Frank Thurlow, formerly category director for beef and poultry with Southeastern Grocers, said, “We had to figure out what the Hispanic customer was looking for and what we needed to do to be attractive to that customer.”

Thurlow shared some numbers about the importance of the Hispanic market segment with the chicken marketers:

  • The U.S. Hispanic market with a population of 57.5 million and buying power today of $1.7 trillion and growing. It is projected that by 2060 the population will nearly double and buying power will exceed $3.5 trillion.
  • The median age for Hispanics is 27 which is 10 years younger than non-Hispanics. Affluence amongst Hispanics is rising faster than the general population.
  • Almost 25 percent of all children under 10 years of age in the U.S. live in Hispanic households.

What is the Hispanic customer looking for?

“We were losing share with Hispanic customers because we lost sight of the traditions and heritage that are important to them,” Thurlow said. He ticked off the following things about Hispanic customers that need to be accounted for in a successful marketing plan:

  • Tradition and heritage drive mealtime choices, and fresh chicken and beans are top foods reflecting their heritage
  • Hispanics are loyal to brands that advertise in Spanish, but English is acceptable if it includes elements of their culture.
  • Hispanics tend to be progressive and drive intercultural affinity
  • They desire access to traditional products but with modern conveniences
  • Hispanics are early adopters of technology and spend an average of 52 hours per week on smartphones.
  • Hispanic consumers are very passionate about their grocery brands (59 percent of Hispanics vs. 47 percent of White/Caucasians).

Hispanic customers revealed preferences in a survey

A survey by the chain collected “preferential data” from its Hispanic customers. It included prioritizations of what they liked, didn’t like, and what they wanted.

  • The Hispanic customer wants all their traditional products in one shop
  • They especially want expanded fresh produce, meats and service deli
  • They want employees who speak their language and know their traditions
  • They want a store that understands their community and participates in the community as a neighbor, not just another business

Best of all, “Chicken is the No. 1 protein for the Hispanic customer,” Thurlow said. This was something that was evident from surveys and customer intercepts.  

Advertising revised for the Hispanic consumer

Thurlow said grocery retailers tend to fall into two camps: The ‘old world’ approach which uses Spanish language and a general market approach which uses English with no difference from non-Hispanic advertising. The revamped ad programming has messaging that combines “old world” values with solutions for “new world” needs.

Hispanics are digitally savvy and use social media to stay connected with family and to gather information to make buying decisions. Social media is underutilized and can be an important tool to connect with Hispanic customers, he said.

Implementation of the marketing plan

“Hispanic grocery shoppers are looking for service, freshness and one-stop shopping. And they are focused on the deli offerings. We devoted more labor in the stores to provide deli service,” he said.

Marketing and PR campaign to reach out to local charities, and each of the grand openings was an event with music and community interaction.

The concept, under the Fresco banner, continues to be one of the better performing banners in south Florida, Thurlow said. “I expect more stores opening under the banner in south Florida and possibly other states in the future.”