In Buy for Less stores, daily specials are announced over the intercom in English and Spanish, and some retailers use bilingual signs at the point of sale.
While bilingual signs make Hispanic consumers feel at home, they could do more harm than good.
“In New York City, there are more Mexicans than Puerto Ricans,” says Kevin Armata, president of Windsor Marketing Group, Windsor Locks, Conn. “They are all Spanish speaking, but the dialects are drastically different One word means totally the opposite word in another (dialect).”
That’s why Armata advises retailers to use pictures rather than words to convey produce sales. He says Hispanics put together pictures of a product and a price quickly, and using pictures keeps you from alienating certain segments of the population.
“The balance of ads has shifted in response to this. Now they are 20% description, 40 % picture and 40% price, where as before they were 50% price, 20% picture and 30% description,” Armata says.
One major retail chain that Armata has been working with went on an eight-week test with the revamped ads, and after just three weeks it decided to keep the new look indefinitely.
THE DIFFERENCES WITHIN
Just as there are various dialects of Spanish, there are variations between Hispanic consumers. Groups within the Hispanic community range from Mexican to Puerto Rican to Latino and more; each group looks for slightly different produce items.
Atkinson says Mexicans, Central and South Americans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans shop at Buy for Less.
“Central and South Americans use no gas-green bananas when making tamales,” he says. “The Mexicans use corn husks and mesa to make tamales, but the Central and South Americans wrap their tamales in fresh banana leaves.”
Atkinson says that at Christmas, the store sells about 200 pounds of banana leaves a day at $1.99 per pound.
Lydick of Mexigrocers.com says that unlike popular assumptions, Puerto Ricans don’t like the spicy foods that Mexicans do.