There’s an enormous group of consumers in the United States with the shopping patterns retailers love. Research has shown they’re super social and highly connected, and among the most likely people in America to not just shop in stores, but do it in groups of family and friends. While they’re highly influenced by online product reviews (they love to validate), they’re also more inclined to leave the house and buy in the store.
As demographic shifts remake America, it’s crucial for retailers to attract and gain the loyalty of Hispanic shoppers. Between 2011 and 2012 alone, the U.S. Hispanic population increased 2.2% — to approximately 53 million, or 17% of the country’s population.
In the recent shopper study, Amazon Can’t Do That — Consumer Desire and the Store of the Future, a key finding was Hispanic consumers’ strong preference for community-driven environments and emotionally satisfying in-store experiences. If you hope to appeal to Hispanics and create the store of the future, you need to understand and attract this audience. Four key ideas to consider:
1. Take a field trip.
Executives at mass-market neighborhood chains could learn a thing or two by visiting their Hispanic grocer. Color. Music. Beautiful displays of produce and ﬂags of the world. This is a shopping experience not only bold in emotion and energy, but rich in human connection and top-rate customer service. For mass-market retailers, you need to step it up.
2. Be ready to build a relationship.
This is where strong customer service comes into play. Focus on winning their hearts and minds. Be prepared to answer questions and slowly build the sale. “Latinos interact in a more personal manner,” Juan Tornoe of Cultural Strategies told The New York Times recently. “We want to be recognized as a person. Connect with me on a personal level before you start selling me.”
3. Engage in social media.
There are more than 33 million U.S. Hispanic Internet users, and more than half of them use mobile devices to access the Web. According to a 2012 study by Experian Simmons, Hispanic consumers were more likely than non-Hispanics to use social network sites to learn about companies and products they like — as well as purchase products seen on them, and post ratings or reviews for others to see.
Facebook is by far the most successful social media platform, having four times as many users as – Twitter (ranked number 2). These customers love to follow their favorite brands online, and they’re eager to talk about yours.
4. Create dynamic, social spaces.
This is a major takeaway from the study, and it’s as applicable to Hispanic consumers (maybe more so) as the U.S. population at large. Environments that encourage engagement will be a place customers want to visit again and again. Encourage customers to touch and learn about new products. Stylize your associates’ wardrobes so they’re easy to identify and start a conversation. Create that “third space” where people want to spend time away from home.
For many major brands, this kind of response is already well underway. According to Advertising Age magazine, Hispanic media spending grew in the U.S. to $7.9 billion in 2012, and Wal-mart has said it will double its multicultural marketing. Target has recognized that near the U.S-Mexico border, Latinos make up as much as 95 percent of their customers — and the company is actively adjusting signage and merchandising accordingly.
Hispanic consumers have a strong preference for community-driven environments and emotionally satisfying in-store experiences.
No question these changes will require considerable strategic investment. But the world’s second largest Hispanic population represents an undeniably large block of spending power. Tomorrow’s retail leaders need to work hard to earn their trust.