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LAS VEGAS -- For the past several years, the numbers and statistics have impressed upon marketers, retailers and businesses the importance of the Hispanic consumer. Now, experts say it is time to move past the numbers and drill down into how Hispanics think as they take their place as influential consumers.
"The future is not in the numbers, but in understanding human behavior," Edward James Olmos told attendees of the ninth annual Hispanic Retail 360 Summit in Las Vegas. The actor, producer and humanitarian presented the keynote address of the three-day event on Thursday.
Evidence of increased emerging cultures and influences can be seen in just about every city in the United States. For retailers and marketers, it is important to understand the role emerging cultures play in today's society, according to Gustavo Razzetti, executive vice president and managing director at Lapiz, the Latino agency of Leo Burnett.
When it comes to the emerging Hispanic consumer, retailers and marketers need to keep three key considerations in mind: the culture, not the consumer, is the boss; Latinos enjoy the social experience of shopping; and value does not mean cheap, it means getting more than what a consumer pays for, explained Esteban Ribero, strategy director at Lapiz.
In a nod to the growing influence the Hispanic consumer wields, Ribero added that it would serve retailers well to test initiatives on Hispanic consumers before rolling them out to the general market.
As for Hispanic Millennials specifically – the theme of this year’s Hispanic Retail 360 Summit is "Understanding Millennials’ Path to Purchase" -- the importance of culture to this demographic sets them apart from their non-Hispanic counterparts, according to Terry Soto, president and CEO of About Marketing Solutions Inc.
In addition, capturing the dollars of this demographic requires an understanding of Hispanic Millennials' in-home behavior because their shopping strategies are formed before they ever step foot inside a store, noted Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst at The NPD Group.
"So much happens before they get to the store that influences what they do in the store," Seifer explained.
Taking the stage at the Summit, a panel of four Millennial Latina mothers spoke about their personal, everyday experiences and drove these key points home. All of the women agreed they are the decision makers in their households. While their husbands offer their opinions, they do not influence the decisions Latina mothers make regarding their family -- whether it’s about banking, buying a flatscreen television or grocery shopping.
And with the role that homemade meals play in their culture and their lives, food retailers should pay close attention to this shopper. For example, all four panelists explained that they use mail circulars to compare prices, frequent stores that offer the products they are looking for -- especially the brands and items their grandmothers and mothers used -- and look for stores that are friendly and welcoming. To that end, they agreed having bilingual employees helps them feel comfortable.
Overall, though, retailers need to try and connect to emerging Hispanic influencers "in culture, in context and in language," concluded Armando Martin, managing partner and co-founder of XL Edge.
The Hispanic Retail 360 Summit, produced by Convenience Store News parent company Stagnito Media, wraps up today.