In today’s competitive market, all retailers are vying for an edge over the competition. Learning best practices allows convenience stores to grow their clientele efficiently — and the same holds true for retaining Hispanic shoppers.
Knowing we have a diverse population drives owners to learn more about serving consumers with different needs.
Hispanics, in particular, are important to c-stores because they have a high amount of purchasing power, enjoy buying at these stores and are loyal customers.
The U.S. Hispanic population reached a record 59.9 million in 2018, up 1.2 million over 2017 and up from 47.8 million in 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, as reported by Pew Research Center.
Top Five Tips
Convenience stores can follow these top five tips for attracting Hispanic consumers and, most importantly, retaining them in the long run.
- Respect differences – No two people are alike. Embrace shoppers for who they are and offer them what they are uniquely seeking.
- Ask their opinions – Asking your customers for their favorite preferences will initiate long-term friendships and make for satisfied customers. Encourage employees to inquire about their favorite products and, when possible, obtain them promptly.
- Excel in customer service – In my humble opinion, this is the top priority for any business owner, especially if you want to attract Hispanics. Helping shoppers feel like your employees care for their needs is vital for keeping your customers engaged and happy.
- Interact with customers – No matter how busy your staff is every day, encouraging them to greet customers with a simple ‘Hello’ — or even better, by their names — is going to make your clients feel welcome. Hearing your name always warms the heart.
- Get to know the families – When your Hispanic customers bring their families, go out of your way to show them you are here to service them. Family is everything, and they appreciate and value when store staff go out of their way to help them.
Popular Food Choices
To get you started, I have come out with a list of items Hispanic shoppers are generally seeking.
Take into consideration that every country has its own preferences. I have added a number of items that are geared towards the Mexican demographic specifically, as Mexicans comprise the majority of the Hispanics in the U.S.
However, make sure to identify the cultural background of your Hispanic demographic to ensure you are providing the appropriate products.
Products to consider:
Beverage flavors – diet sodas, flavors such as pineapple, grape, orange, strawberry, mandarin
Alcoholic beverages – cold beer is a prefered adult beverage
Sugar-free beverages/foods – prepared coffee and sodas in sugar-free varieties are popular among Hispanics, especially those who are diabetic
Desserts/sweets – flan, custards, paletas (Mexican-style popsicles), Mexican individually packed candy — for example, obleas with cajeta (candy made with wafers and goat’s milk filling, similar to dulce de leche); meringue; Mexican gum, such as Chiclets, or other Mexican candy
Bread – pan dulce (packaged sweet bread), Cuban bread, tortillas, rice
Dairy – Mexican cheese such as queso fresco, Mexican crema (similar to sour cream), canned milk
Snacks – chips with added chile, cheese or lime, chicharron (fried pork skins), plantain chips, galletas por soda (round and thick cracker), Gansito (a Mexican snack cake) or toasted garbanzo beans
Packaged items – Mexican hot chocolate, instant soups, prepared coffee with flavors
Entrees/protein – tamales, burritos, tortas, Cuban sandwich, refried beans in squeeze-type bags
Fruits and veggies – Bananas, mangos, tomatoes, avocados, mandarins, cut pre-packaged fruit with chile, dried fruits
Sauces – Mexican hot sauces (to add to fruits, soups, eggs and so on)
Sylvia Klinger is the founder of Hispanic Food Communications Inc., a nutrition and food communications consulting company. An expert in cross-cultural Hispanic food and culture as it relates to nutrition and health, Sylvia has been a consultant for major food, beverage, agricultural and pharmaceutical companies, as well as nonprofit organizations for more than a decade.