Food, Shopping Experience Central Concerns for Hispanics: Study

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. -- In a radical departure from traditional "Q&A" methodology, the Unilever study "Winning the Hispanic Shopping Trip," probed the actual Hispanic shopper's activities, reviewing over 3,600 diaries and store receipts. The results, according to the company, show the primacy of food and the shopping experience for this rapidly growing demographic group.

"Retailers have an important opportunity to build their business among Hispanic shoppers," said Michael Polk, President, Unilever United States, in a statement. "The [study] shows that the Hispanic consumer is less satisfied with their shopping experiences than is the general market consumer. We're confident that the Hispanic shopper insights in this study will help retailers develop more specific actions as they look to build their strategies for reaching these increasingly important shoppers."

The study concentrated on four of the largest Hispanic markets in the U.S.: Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. Of the 799 participants who took part, almost nine out of every 10 respondents were born outside of the United States.

One key finding of the study was that because food plays such an important part in a Hispanic woman's life, all shopping activities are highly planned.

"From family to community, food for Hispanic Americans has an emotional and cultural significance that extends beyond eating," explained Mike Twitty, senior group research manager, shopper insight, Unilever United States. "Hence, the Hispanic shopper thinks about every aspect of food shopping and preparation. She plans her trips carefully -- apparently more so than the general market shopper -- and not only around what she has at home and what she needs, but around the value she can obtain."

Other significant findings include:

-- Quick trips are just 44 percent of all trips the Hispanic shopper makes, vs. 62 percent for general market shoppers. Nonfood items spur quick trips for the Hispanic shopper.

-- Hispanic women are significantly more aware (by a 48 percent to 36 percent margin) of "specials" before going to the store than are general market shoppers. Even inside the store, Hispanics' awareness of specials is higher than the general market's.

-- Almost one in four Hispanic shoppers walk or take public transportation (22 percent), compared with just one in 33 of general market consumers. Geography is responsible for choice, as is value.

-- The Hispanic shopper knows her needs beforehand, so 56 percent of her trips are routine, vs. 26 percent in the general market.

-- The Hispanic shopper spends less per routine trip, but 54 percent of her total grocery spending occurs on routine trips, vs. 22 percent in the general market.

-- Only 2 percent of the Hispanic shopper's trips are urgent, as opposed to 19 percent for the general market -- a margin of 1 in 50 vs. one in five.

-- More than half the respondents surveyed pay in cash, one-quarter used a debit card, and 11 percent pay by credit card. Just 2 percent pay by check.

-- 35 percent of all Hispanic shopping trips take place after 6 p.m., compared with only 18 percent in the general market.

-- Hispanic shoppers shop with others -- most often with kids -- on 29 percent of all trips, compared with 23 percent in the general market.

-- Hispanic shoppers are nearly twice as likely to shop with a nonfamily member, such as a friend, than is the general market.

Unilever's portfolio of brands includes Axe, "all," Ben & Jerry's, Bertolli, Breyers, Caress, Country Crock, Degree, Dove personal care products, Hellmann's, Lipton, Knorr, Popsicle, Promise, Q-Tips, Skippy, Slim-Fast, Snuggle, Suave. and Vaseline. In the United States the company employs more than 15,000 people in 74 office and manufacturing sites in 24 states and Puerto Rico.
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