Leveraging Emotional Reactions to Reach Loyal Hispanic Guests

Image: TAP Sports Bar inside the MGM Grand

“Without Hispanics,” says Glenn Llopis, a contributor to Forbes, “America’s corporations can’t grow and can’t compete.”

That applies to independent operators as well. The Hispanic population in the United States is growing a staggering five times faster than non-Hispanic populations. In fact, the Hispanic population is projected to account for 17% to 23% of the US population by the year 2034, growing each year by 530,000 people for the next 20-plus years. Mauricio Reyes, manager of consumer insights for Constellation Brands, focuses on elevating Hispanic consumer knowledge across the organization and presented an informative educational session at the 2016 Nightclub & Bar Show in Las Vegas.

It is imperative that every bar, nightclub or restaurant operator appeal to the Hispanic population of this country, and it’s equally important that indie operators understand their Hispanic customers. First, operators in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Pennsylvania and West Virginia should know that they’re running businesses in the 6 American states experiencing the fastest growth in Hispanic populations. Second, they should know that the ethnic groups within the Hispanic population that are growing the fastest are of Mexican (63%), Cuban (6%) and Dominican (5%) descent. It’s crucial to consider that the educations and incomes of those who make up the United States Hispanic population will only continue to increase.

Other factors to consider is that Hispanics’ expenditures on dining out have reached 44% since 2009, and that fast food and pizza have proven to have the broadest appeal to this segment of our population. As we all know, pizza can be an incredible revenue generator. And what goes fantastically well with pizza (besides family and friends)? Beer, and it just so happens that Hispanics spend over half of their alcohol beverage budget on beer. There’s a reason Modelo and Dos Equis have been stepping up their advertising efforts throughout the United States. Pizza and beer are a great combination for most occasions, but they tend to be just the thing for watching or attending sporting events, and the most popular sports among Hispanic consumers are professional football, baseball, basketball, boxing and soccer. Hispanic consumers also report higher spends per occasion than their non-Hispanic counterparts on alcohol beverages, and tend to go out with bigger parties and spend more money than non-Hispanic consumers.

Emotional reactions are the key to reaching any consumer and converting them into a loyal customer. Speaking in general terms, there are several factors to keep in mind when attempting to leverage emotional reactions from Hispanic consumers. Reyes breaks down the Hispanic consumer group into three categories:

  • Unacculturated – Tend to only navigate within Latino culture. Most have recently immigrated to the US and are most comfortable with speaking Spanish. Proud of their Hispanic culture and teach their US-born children the traditions of their ancestors.
  • Acculturated – Born in US and of Hispanic descent. Prefer to speak English but can navigate into Latino culture.
  • Bicultural / Semi-Acculturated – Can navigate both cultures.

You need to understand these three categories to understand their values and create more impactful emotional reactions. However, it is important to understand that Hispanics represent one of the most diverse ethnic groups in America; Reyes' suggestions are broad and operators will need to commit to understanding the Hispanic consumers in their particular markets.  Family tends to be more important to unacculturated and bicultural Hispanic consumers. Children remain the priority for Hispanic consumers who fall into the unacculturated and bicultural categories. Money and assimilation into American culture are most important to acculturated Hispanic consumers. All three categories of Hispanic consumers in the US value the American dream, their cultural heritage, and the Spanish language. Those three values plus family are what operators need to leverage in order to pull the strings of these guests.

So what, in Reyes’ best estimation, are food and beverage businesses doing wrong in terms of Hispanic consumers? The answer is that they’re adopting a total market approach rather than a targeted approach to business. Rather than actually learning about Hispanic culture, many bars, nightclubs and restaurants simply translate some of their marketing materials into Spanish and believe that’s a good enough effort. A total market approach doesn’t pull emotional levers and that is why it fails. Operators must understand any demographic in order to effectively approach and win them over. Reyes recommends that operators consider their venue, their menu, and which category or categories of Hispanic consumers make up the market in which they operate. This approach will help them  determine the food and beverage offerings that should be on their menus, the language that should be used in marketing materials, and their advertising approach.


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