HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® recently spoke with IMUSA USA president Manny Gaunaurd about how retailers can leverage Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15. Gaunaurd discussed how retailers can use this month-long focus to connect with Hispanic consumers, who, according to the U.S. Census, is the fastest-growing demographic in the country, one that wields more than $1 trillion dollars in spending power.
HomeWorld Business: What opportunities does Hispanic Heritage Month present for retailers?
Manny Gaunaurd: Hispanic Heritage Month has definitely grown in popularity at the retail level over the last several years. Retailers have identified that promoting during this timeframe acknowledges that Hispanics are part of this country and culture, and there has been considerable growth in demand for Hispanic food and housewares.
In addition, Hispanic Heritage Month is a lead-in to holiday shopping. It helps the retailer address the consumer and her needs and bring in different pieces, such as food and cooking tools that are used during the holidays as well as every day.
HWB: How can retailers capitalize on Hispanic Heritage Month and other promotions aimed at this growing demographic?
MG: We’ve seen a spike at this time in targeted promotions from a merchandising perspective. On a macro level, bilingual signage, and advertising in both Spanish and English is key. With food and housewares, especially, there has been a considerable amount of growth in assortment as well as in merchandising to the Hispanic consumer. There is room for a lot of cross-promotion, such as tie-ins between food and housewares or music with electronics, for example.
It’s a time where retailers can start to build relationships with the Hispanic consumer by bringing in products that provide value and that demonstrate that they understand the needs of the Hispanic consumers in their region. Retailers need to address those needs on an everyday basis by identifying and carrying products Hispanic consumers who shop their stores use year-round. That mindset builds long-term loyalty.
HWB: What are some of the challenges retailers face when trying to connect with Hispanic consumers and how can they overcome them?
MG: There’s no such thing as one size fits all for the Hispanic consumer. Retailers need to have a regionalized assortment. They need to recognize who’s shopping the store and address the core customer by combining different foods with the cookware and gadgets.
Regional grocery stores have the ability to be dynamic and nimble. Pairing culture-specific foods with cookware and other products in promotions shows they are accessible. It may not work for everything, but it works in this category. Mass merchants that don’t have the variety a grocery might have can still put together the basics, such as salsa bowls and steamers. It begins to showcase the importance of the cuisine, and these offers attract the consumer.
HWB: What does IMUSA do to help retailers identify and connect with the Hispanic consumer?
MG: IMUSA brings in products that provide value for Hispanic consumers. We also help our retailers identify influences in a region as a result of immigration and/or changes in the demographic.
From a marketing and social media perspective, we support retailers by working on our product packaging to help create a full experience for the customer, by offering recipes, product details and tips in both English and Spanish. We also tie purchases to our website, Facebook page and other media where we post new recipes or how-to videos for making different recipes. It’s not just about the sale of the product. We support our retailers by being available 24/7. Within the retailers that allow us, we can put recipes on their sites as well. We don’t overwhelm the consumer, but if they want this information— every day or every week— they can have it.
HWB: What else can we expect from IMUSA in the coming year?
MG: There is a lot of relevance in the ethnic markets with more people cooking at home. We are anticipating nice growth for next year. Value and pricepoints are still important and we have some great launches taking place with IMUSA and Mirro. We’ve relaunched Mirro as a cooking solution and its nice to see that product back on shelves with one branded statement. At retail, that coherency is going to be huge.