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Hispanic Market Waiting For Foodservice To Speak Its Language

February 19, 2013

A new whitepaper from the NPD Group says that the fast-growing U.S. Hispanic market make 6 billion visits annually to the foodservice channel, spending $30 billion a year.

But is the channel speaking the right language for its customers?

The report, titled “U.S. Hispanics: A Growing Opportunity,” says Hispanic customers who are Spanish-language oriented – 58 percent of the market – are much more likely to use foodservice for morning meal and snacking than English-language oriented Hispanics or non-Hispanics.

“Spicier, Mexican, and sweeter/fruitier foods and beverages are more popular among both Hispanic groups than they are among non-Hispanics,” the report says, adding that both Hispanic groups use quick service restaurants more than non-Hispanics.

But the language barrier is the biggest barrier to entry, it says, offering ideas for foodservice operators to reach further into the market:

  • Is a Spanish language version of the menu available, and do servers offer it?
  • Are there photos of the food on the menu board to make choosing food easier?
  • Are there phone order options for non-English speakers?
  • Are there bi-lingual crew members and a process to help them assist guests?
  • Are there ways to let customers know there are non-English speakers and processes in place?

The report also suggests that marketers should respect tradition, a very valued area of Hispanic customers’ lives, as well as improving nutrition for food and beverages.

“Food and beverages play a central role in the preservation of Hispanic culture and reconnection for family,” said Terry Soto, president and CEO of About Marketing Solutions Inc., a consultant on the report. “As a result, Hispanics view mealtime, nutrition and healthy eating different than non-Hispanics. Going for seconds is encouraged and welcomed, and conveys that a person ‘eats well’ and has a good appetite, which is a symbol of good health.”

Finally, the report says Hispanic customers shop more frequently at convenience stores than non-Hispanics and spend more per transaction. They are more likely to buy particular salty and sweet snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, and fountain drinks with food specials.

In addition, fresh foods prepared on-site are much more important to Hispanic customers than non-Hispanics, the report found.

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