'Culture shop': Targeting the Latino customer

The Hispanic opportunity represents a "new American reality," noted Roberto Ruiz, SVP strategy and insights for Univision Communications, last month at the Consumer Healthcare Products Association's Annual Executive Conference. Hispanic-Americans aren't assimilating into the American melting pot. "We're hearing people say they are '200% individuals' in our focus groups," Ruiz said. "100% American and 100% Latino."

By the end of 2012, approximately 54.5 million Hispanic-Americans were living in the United States — about 20% of the total U.S. population; in the next generation, that number will reach 30%.

Reaching this heterogenic population has become less about the language and more about addressing the culture "in a way that's sincere and respectful," noted Doug Stukenborg, Target divisional merchandise manager for pharmacy, OTC and optical. "It can't be done in some ... corner office. A diverse marketplace needs to be embraced across an entire organization, from the boardroom to the sales floor."

In stores that target the Latino shopper, Target looks for a mix of brands familiar to customers from their country of origin, as well as U.S. brands that over-index among Hispanics. "It's a balance of bringing in those key items that we need to have in order to be relevant [with the Hispanic consumer], but also really thinking about what does she care about as a consumer. Some of the unique items we bring in ... may not be performing at levels that would normally keep them on the shelf, but ... it creates the right impression that helps her understand we're a store for her."

For CPG manufacturers, making sure their message breaks through may mean duplicating marketing efforts. "This is not only a valuable consumer … but also one very new to messaging," said Reny Diaz, Nielsen director client engagement. "Fifty-seven percent of viewers of a Spanish broadcast aren't reached [with] English [messaging]."

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