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How Are Hispanic Shoppers and Retailers Operating in a Walmart World?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Today, there are over 50 million Hispanics in America. That translates to one in six Americans—an increase of 43% since 2000. And this growing population has a similarly large purchasing power making for a large, diverse shopping culture.

Comprised of both older, traditional shoppers who opt for local/regional Hispanic grocers and younger, bicultural shoppers who embrace larger American chains; the Hispanic shopping culture has its nuances.

We wonder; as this community continues to grow and evolve will their shopping habits evolve as well? For instance, will they continue to shop at Hispanic grocers or transition completely to price-driven national retailers like Walmart?

Knowing that Walmart currently draws a large Hispanic shopper base, Shopper Culture wanted to investigate how today’s Hispanic grocers are competing in a price driven, Walmart world.

An interview with Juvenal Chavez, founder and chairman of the board for Mi Pueblo Food Center, shed some light on today’s Hispanic shopper and what it is like for regional Hispanic grocers to compete with larger price-driven chains.

1. How do Hispanic retail chains survive in the price-driven “Walmart era?”

“Twenty years ago Hispanic retailers were the only option for Hispanics looking for specialty items from their home countries. Given the population’s quick growth in the US, many superstores and value stores have launched and expanded their efforts to cater to their needs. Thus, we are no longer their only option for getting authentic ingredients. To survive in this era, Hispanic retailers need to evolve alongside our consumers without losing the cultural identity that differentiates us. It’s a fine line, but one that we must walk every day.”

2. How do you engage the experiential Hispanic shopper in a world focused on low prices? What generates loyalty among Hispanic shoppers?

“Price is not the only factor that Hispanic shoppers consider when deciding on their favorite grocery store. We offer our customers a unique and authentic, alternative experience when shopping with us. The way we treat them and welcome them is reminiscent of the home they left behind. This sense of freedom, nostalgia and traditions translates into customer pride, loyalty and sense of ownership. This is what gives us a competitive advantage and generates the loyalty we all aspire to have in today’s competitive landscape.”

3. How has the shopper mix changed? Are there different types of Hispanic shoppers? More non-Hispanic shoppers?

“The US Hispanic population has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. Back then, most of our shoppers were born outside of the US and were hungry for the products that they used to consume back home. Today, we also cater to their US-born children and grandchildren who lead a bilingual and bicultural life, while sharing the same values, language, culture, and most importantly, the foods and traditions as older generations. They are very proud of their heritage and are willing to share it with their non-Hispanic friends, opening up a great opportunity to serve and cater to a whole new segment of our customer base. We do this by adjusting to the new and different expectations of this new segment of shoppers, while being mindful of maintaining our authenticity and traditions.”

4. How do you evolve with the shopper and market?

It’s important to understand that our Hispanic shoppers and their expectations have evolved. We need to continue to differentiate ourselves by providing them with a unique shopping experience that meets their new expectations. It’s about focusing on the areas that have always made us stand out, like high-quality produce, specialty cuts at the meat department and freshly-made traditional baked goods. However, we must not forget to also evolve our customer service and in-store technology to ensure that we remain competitive and true to our niche in the marketplace.”

To learn more about the Hispanic shopper download the Hispanic Edition of The Checkout, out presentation from the Hispanic Retail 360 Summit or our white paper, The New Hispanic Shopper.

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