How to attract 35 million Hispanic consumers

08/15/2002 12:00:00 AM
Elizabeth Ashby

“The Hispanic consumer is the most profitable consumer you can have in your stores because they hit your perishables so hard. They buy all kinds of different produce, and price is not a factor. When Chilean peaches are in season at $1.99 a pound, if they want 10 pounds, they buy it.”

MERCHANDISING TECHNIQUES

It takes more than just chili peppers to attract the largest minority group in the U.S.

At Buy for Less, piñatas decorate display tables and Mexican flags hang from the ceiling. Atkinson says the first Hispanic display consumers see is an endcap of Mexican papayas and an 8-foot square case of items like tomatillos, cactus leaves and chili peppers.

At Food Lion, a Salisbury, N.C.-based chain of 1,200 stores, having a variety of roots like yuca, boniato and malanga and dried and fresh chili peppers is important, says Mirna Franjul, category manager of specialty foods and a native of the Dominican Republic. She says depending on the location of the store, Hispanic sets range from 12-foot to 56-foot gondolas.

Mike Witt, director of produce and floral retail fresh merchandising for Supervalu Inc., Minneapolis, a chain of 1,200 stores, says about 12 of the company’s 80 corporate Cub Food stores have been remodeled to carry the Don Chilitos Hispanic product line distributed by St. Paul, Minn.-based wholesaler J&J Distributing. The product line includes about 60 stock-keeping units of dried vegetables, rice, beans, peppers and spices for the Hispanic consumer. At Cub’s Apple Valley, Minn., store, the products are merchandised on a peg rack and gondola about 6 feet long. The gondola is placed at the end of the produce department where all consumers must pass to move to the rest of the store.

David Brand, produce and floral field specialist for Supervalu, says the store’s first three days of having the Don Chilitos brand brought more than $500 in sales to the produce department. In front of the display, Cub also palletizes a 2,000-pound bag of pinto beans, which are sold for 44 cents per pound.

Witt says the company plans to incorporate Don Chilitos products in all of its Cub stores in all regions. Supervalu has identified about 35% of corporate and franchised stores that will have their Hispanic sections expanded. By late July, the size of the pepper display had doubled in the stores targeted as having a high potential for Hispanic consumers. The chain also has identified about 40 fresh produce items that it will key in on for Hispanics including jicama, roma tomatoes and papayas.


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