Want to tap into a market whose buying power exceeded $860 billion in 2007 and should top $1.2 trillion in 2012 (Source: Selig Center for Economic Growth)? You can, but to do so you need to understand the U.S. Hispanic market. You need to know their wants and needs, what matters to them, and how best to connect and communicate with them. If you don’t do your homework now and begin building a relationship with the Hispanic consumer, you’re likely to be left behind. If you serve them well, in addition to having some of the most loyal customers a business could want, they’ll also be your best sales force—they’ll tell their family, friends, and others about your business.

José Cancela’s book, The Power of Business En Español, is a good place to begin your journey. In his book, Cancela emphasizes that “Mom” exercises significant influence and family is important, as is respect for elders. “Family influencers” play an important role in purchase decisions and it’s not unusual for the entire family, and extended family, to have input on big decisions. Hispanics spend more than the average consumer on items such as men’s and children’s clothing, footwear, house wares, sports, and toys. Given that Hispanics tend to have larger families and 20 percent of U.S. children are Hispanic, it’s not surprising they spend more on children’s clothing and toys.

Further noted is the fact that Hispanics often shop as a group, which might include children, grandparents, and other extended family members. A Unilever study reports that 29 percent of the time Hispanics bring someone else along on their shopping trips, compared to the general market’s 23 percent. They have a strong emotional and cultural attachment to food; it’s not just about eating, and they tend to give much thought about food shopping and preparation. Because Hispanics like to use fresh meat and fresh produce in their cooking, they shop more often than the general population. Cancela references a study by The Food Marketing Institute that reports Latinos average 4.7 weekly trips to the grocery store (18.8 trips per month), versus 2.2 trips (8.8 per month) for the general populace.

Since Hispanics tend to shop as a group, you have more potential customers in your store – more people to whom you could sell. As Cancela suggests, you might boost your sales by having “buy one, get the second half off” specials to hit your target and the influencer. Understanding the importance of family and that “influencers” such as a grandmother who might not speak English may impact your signage. Cancela notes that the U.S.’s largest retailer understands this. In English, their tagline is “Everyday Low Prices;” in Spanish it is “Para Su Familia Siempre,” translated in English the message is “For Your Family Always.”

Given that the average Hispanic consumer makes more than twice as many visits to the grocery each week than the general population, you have more “touches” and more opportunities to sell. Research tells us the frequency of visits is more important than the size of the sale. Knowing the importance of “Mom” and family is also useful. When creating your marketing plan, targeting the family, and especially Mom, is likely to be the most effective.

The above are just a few examples. If you want to begin the journey and learn more about the U.S. Hispanic population’s buying power, another good source of information is The Multicultural Economy, a study of minority buying power conducted by the Selig Center for Economic Growth, Terry College of Business at The University of Georgia.

If Peter Drucker is correct, that the population group that is the biggest and fastest growing determines the “mood,” then move over Baby Boomers. Based on the size of the U.S. Hispanic population and its growth rate, they’ll be setting the “mood.” If they aren’t the new “Boomers,” they will be soon. Don’t miss this opportunity!

(Source: Susan Caldwell, SBDC Gwinnett Office)