ANAHEIM, Calif. — Robinson Fresh recently conducted research to better understand Hispanic consumers, and some of the resulting insights included which produce items shoppers describe as hard to find; differences in preferences for Hispanic shoppers of various origins; and must-have items for holidays.
Gina Garven, vice president of commercial development and analytics for Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Robinson Fresh, said developing familiarity with Hispanic shoppers is hugely important because Hispanics make up 18% of the U.S. population already and project to make up 30% of the population by 2050.
One key takeaway from the research is that country of origin plays a role.
“You can’t clump Hispanic research into this big demographic that one size fits all,” Garven said. “You really have to understand are they coming from the Caribbean, are they coming from Mexico, are they coming from Latin America, from South America, or Spain.
“What we were trying to understand is how are they shopping today, how frequently, what formats are they shopping, is referrals and who they shop with important to them, does that drive different decision-making, as well as what are the items that are really hard to find in traditional retail today and how do we better support what they’re looking for not just within produce but in other departments across the fresh perimeter,” Garven said.
The paper Robinson Fresh published on the topic gave examples of how the importance of items varies from one region to the next. Shoppers from the Caribbean prioritize plantains, cilantro, malanga, avocados, yuca and mangoes, for example, while consumers from Central America most favor corn tortillas, plantains, avocados, mangoes, tomatillos, papaya, hot peppers and limes. The research also listed top items for shoppers from Mexico, South America and Spain.
Garven noted that one of the most interesting aspects of the research involved uncovering what Hispanic consumers describe as hard to find at grocery stores. Among the items, which varied by region, were mangoes, jalapeños and avocados. Garven described that as a somewhat surprising finding until the company dug further into the responses.
While U.S. grocery stores tend to stock the "perfect" jalapeño, bright green without markings, Hispanic shoppers actually look for jalapeños with corking — small lines on the pepper — because they indicate how hot they are. Those consumers are also sometimes seeking different varieties of produce, Garven said, like green and yellow mangoes and large, smooth-skinned avocados.
“For customers to understand there are different varieties that that Hispanic demographic is looking for but they can’t find, that’s something we need to pay a lot of attention to and really be able to hone in on making sure we have enough of the varieties on the floor so that people know that they can access them and shop them there,” Garven said. “That will drive larger basket sizes. That will keep your Hispanic shopper shopping your department in your stores.”
She also encouraged retailers to keep holidays in mind, particularly Día de los Muertos, Christmas and Tamale Season.
“The thing that Hispanic shoppers say are critically important for them to have in a store for them to stay in-store and shop it are corn husks and banana leaves,” Garven said. “These are really important things to have. A retailer doesn’t need to have them year-round necessarily, but to have it from mid-October through mid-January, that’s really important for the Hispanic shopper.”