Acculturation and language preference affect a wide variety of Hispanic consumer behaviors, and grocery shopping is no different. Some 57% of Hispanic grocery shoppers report shopping for groceries at supermarkets weekly. Close to three in 10 Hispanic respondents report shopping for groceries at supermarkets monthly. By contrast, fewer than four in 10 Hispanic respondents say they shop for groceries weekly at Hispanic supermarkets, and fewer than three in 10 say they buy at Hispanic supermarkets monthly. The disparity may be because a majority of Hispanics are bicultural and acculturated and therefore less culturally driven to shop at Hispanic supermarkets. Unacculturated Hispanics tend to stick closer to a traditional Hispanic diet, which makes them more likely to buy from Hispanic grocery stores. They also likely appreciate the Spanish-language customer service Hispanic stores provide.

How to attract Hispanic shoppers

Although most supermarkets serving communities with significant Hispanic populations already merchandise a range of ethnic food products, supermarkets should experience more Hispanic traffic if they widen the variety of Hispanic foods they offer. Retailers should be sure to consider country of origin, the varying tastes of Hispanics of different heritages, and level of acculturation when devising their product mix.

More than four in 10 Hispanic respondents report buying groceries weekly at Walmart, and close to a quarter say they buy weekly at mass merchandisers (not Walmart) such as Target or Kmart. Additionally, more than a third of respondents say they buy groceries monthly at Walmart, and a full third report buying at other mass merchandisers such as Target. These results indicate that mass merchandisers play a substantial role for Hispanics buying groceries. Mass stores such as Walmart have stepped up their grocery offerings in recent years, and with the lower price points that mass stores provide, Hispanics–whose median household income ranks lower than that of Asians and Whites–will likely appreciate the savings these retailers offer. Walmart has moved to offer more Spanish-language signage and a broader selection of products Hispanics like to better accommodate its Hispanic customers. As Hispanic buying power has increased more rapidly than that of all ethnicities but Asians between 1990 and estimated 2017, mass stores should encourage more Hispanic traffic by offering the right product mix for the community they service as well as the services Hispanics seek, such as check cashing, wire transfer, postage including international shipping, and international prepaid calling cards.

Hispanic use of other retailers such as dollar stores, convenience stores, and natural foods stores is far lower than their use of supermarkets and mass merchandisers, likely due to the average size of Hispanic families and the need for grocery retailers that best suit buying for larger families. Although dollar stores offer affordable household goods and personal care items (but rarely groceries), many Hispanics tend to be selective for at least personal care brands but are likely to be purchasing household products at this type of retailer. Convenience stores rarely offer groceries per se, mostly merchandising frozen foods and snacks. Natural foods stores tend to be pricier, which may alienate a substantial portion of the Hispanic population. Supermarkets and mass merchandisers have an advantage over these other retailers because they offer a wider selection of food, household goods, and personal care items. Club stores, which typically sell items in bulk, would seem to well suit grocery shopping for larger families, suggesting that club retailers should do more to attract less acculturated Hispanics; 18% of Hispanic respondents say they buy groceries at club stores weekly, and 34% say they buy from club stores monthly. Chains such as Costco, which markets itself as “upscale-downscale,” are typically located in more suburban areas; although Hispanics tend to live in more metropolitan areas, they are the group that had the greatest increase from urban to suburban areas in the last Census, which will likely increase Costco’s Hispanic traffic.

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