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    Inviting In Latino Consumers

    Hispanic Retail 360 Summit highlights strategies to capture this growing population.

    DALLAS -- Best Buy's Kal Patel kicked off the third annual Hispanic Retail 360 Summit with a question: "How do you invite some people without disinviting others?"

    The answer to this question is one that Best Buy and fellow retailers across several channels -- from electronics to food and beverages -- are on a journey to find out. It's not an easy journey, nor is it quick, he said, but it is necessary to stay relevant today.

    “"The fabric of America is changing. And that means the fabric of our company must change," Patel, executive vice president, emerging business and strategy for Best Buy, told attendees during the opening keynote address of the three-day conference, which wrapped up Friday at the Westin Park Central Hotel in Dallas.

    More than 500 retailers and suppliers representing various channels gathered last week for the event, packed with workshops and a product showcase for those looking to maximize their business with the growing U.S. Latino consumer market.

    Attendees heard from a lineup of top retailers, suppliers and Latino market experts on such topics as Hispanic shopping behavior, internet retailing, event planning and sports marketing. The event, produced by the Nielsen Business Media Retail Group, parent company to Convenience Store News, also featured a live on-site focus group of Latino shoppers from different backgrounds and acculturation levels, conducted by "NBC-Today Show" food expert Phil Lempert, as well as a store tour that highlighted the best practices of Dallas-area retailers who serve the Hispanic community.

    One piece of advice that was reiterated again and again was the need to fully understand the DNA of the Latino consumer and then truly commit to serving their needs.

    For Best Buy, capturing the business of its Hispanic customers has come from first building their trust. As Patel and his team explained, they have found that Latinos want to find someone in-store they can connect with and trust to guide them to the right purchase. So, Best Buy is focused on mirroring its stores' internal demographics to their external demographics by bringing in more Spanish-speaking employees.

    Another way that Bashas' Food City, a 62-store Hispanic grocery format, caters to Hispanics is by offering them the products they know and love, noted Robert Ortiz, vice president of sales and marketing for the chain. Ortiz was part of a retailing panel that also included representatives from Minyard Food Stores and Pro's Ranch Markets, all of which operate successful Hispanic grocery concepts.

    Ortiz said treating imported products as mainstream, rather than as specialties, unlocks their power. "Think about if you were relocated to a different country, wouldn't you look for the products you know? This is the same situation," he pointed out.

    "We're all looking for opportunities that are right in front of us," he added. "This business doesn't just come to you; you have to earn it," he continued.

    For full coverage of the Hispanic 360 Retail Summit, including photos from the event, look for the Oct. 22 issue of Convenience Store News.

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