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SAN ANTONIO -- Stagnito Business Information's 2014 Hispanic Retail 360 Summit generated record attendance of 582, a number that included many of the leading retailers in the nation.
The conference’s theme, “The Total Market: Tapping Into the Power of Bicultural Latinos Through an Integrated Approach,” focused on targeting a Hispanic market that is a far cry from the immigrant-dominated demographic of decades past.
Dozens of speakers used case studies, panel discussions and research to highlight the importance of U.S.-born Hispanic Millennials and the benefits of shifting away from Hispanic-specific marketing initiatives to a platform integrating all cultures.
Juan Carlos Davila, Nielsen’s senior vice president and general manager of Hispanic market, outlined the demographic factors surrounding this unique Millennial group. For starters, 75 percent of U.S.-born Latinos are under the age of 35. Unlike the foreign-born, who tend to cluster in certain cities, Hispanic Millennials live almost everywhere.
“They’re not mirroring non-Hispanics, but they are significantly different [from foreign-born]," Davila explained, noting that in total, 64 percent of Latinos are U.S.-born, the largest segment since 1980.
Millennial moms are particularly important as they outspend other Generation Y consumers and are the decision makers in their households, but their feet are in both cultures.
“She is ‘very Latina’ with her family; at the same time, she wants convenience and shortcuts,” said another speaker, Francisco Ortiz, vice president of client services at Catapult Vista. “In marketing to her, you can use a mainstream plan that includes Hispanic elements.”
During a panel discussion organized by Unified Grocers, Omar Milbus, vice president of sales and marketing at Rio Ranch Markets, an independent California supermarket chain, said bicultural elements are particularly evident on his company’s social media page in that many comments are in English. In his Hispanic stores, an organic food section now targets young, bicultural shoppers.
It is important to carry both traditional Hispanic products and mainstream brands, according to Beto Chavez, general manager at Chavez Supermarkets, another California independent. Chavez introduced craft beer, which is particularly popular among assimilated Latinos.
But this does not mean becoming an “American” retailer, Chavez stressed. “We advertise as a Hispanic brand; we’re not trying to be Safeway.”
Budweiser, which has targeted Latinos longer than many companies, uses music, lifestyle and sports to appeal to different segments. “It’s not a homogenous group,” said Miguel Nigrinis, senior brand manager for Bud Light, who is focused on the multicultural business.
In targeting Millennials, a carne asada contest melded the popularity of the all-American NFL among bicultural Hispanics with the preparation of a traditional dish. “We need to be relevant without being stereotypical, while representing the brand,” added Nigrinis.
Other presentations outlined how Hispanics can achieve professional success. In a rags-to-riches story that sounded as impossible as a fairy tale, Richard Montañez, multicultural marketing and sales executive at PepsiCo, talked about how he created Hot Cheetos, PepsiCo’s best-selling salty snack.
Starting his PepsiCo career as a janitor, Montañez unknowingly broke the “rules” and approached the CEO with his idea. Without a high school diploma and with a background that included grape picker and car wash attendant, he used his intelligence, wit and self-confidence to rise through the ranks.
“Sometimes, you have to get out of the line you were put in and you’ll get a cookie,” said Montañez, reiterating a childhood experience in which Anglo children received cookies and Mexican ones did not, even though they attended the same school. “Not knowing better, I called the [PepsiCo] CEO. I didn’t realize what I did. But I had something inside that was greater than pain or fear. And I’m a firm believer in destiny.”
The event also included the HR360 Solution Center, where vendors showcased products and services aimed at Latinos. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Hispanic Retail 360 took place Aug. 13-15.
Next year, the Stagnito Business Information conference will be held in Anaheim, Calif., and be rebranded as the Multicultural Retail 360 Summit.