As one of today’s fastest-growing demographics, Hispanics make up 18% of the U.S. population and are projected to reach 30% by 2050. Representing more than 20 different countries, this population is exceptionally diverse. And, just as their backgrounds are different, so too are their preferences in fresh produce.
More than 1,700 U.S. Hispanic shoppers were surveyed by Robinson Fresh® to better understand the grocery shopping habits of this growing population. The survey indicated a high potential for traditional grocery stores to boost fresh produce sales to U.S. Hispanic shoppers. Before the potential can be achieved, it’s important to understand what motivates Hispanic shopper buying habits and how to influence a change in buying behaviors.
Understanding Hispanic shoppers’ purchasing preferences
While the propensity to shop at Hispanic grocery stores is higher for those under the age of 35, traditional grocers still get the most traffic. Two-thirds of our survey respondents indicated shopping at traditional grocers, particularly for produce.
Of those surveyed, 65% of shoppers say they often look for items that are distinctly Hispanic, including hot peppers, cilantro, corn tortillas, avocados, plantains, mangos, peppers, tomatillos, and limes.
Nearly two-thirds of Hispanic shoppers said a product’s appearance was more important than price. Purchases of fresh fruits, which are typically “nice to haves,” were driven more by appearance. Vegetables, often seen as meal staples and “need to haves,” tended to be led by price. Watch for part two of our research soon, where we’ll get into more detail on pricing and assortment for the Hispanic demographic.
Hard-to-find fresh produce items
Nearly one-third of shoppers surveyed indicated they have a difficult time finding the fresh produce items they’re looking for at their grocery store. Surprisingly, these hard-to-find items (including mangos, papaya, dragon fruit, jicama, guava, and plantain) really aren’t rare commodities. I suspect the reason there is difficulty in finding these items has to do with varieties carried and how these products are merchandised.
Go green for both avocados and mangos
A few examples of hard to find items are avocados and mangos. Many grocery stores carry these items, but they don’t always carry the varieties that Hispanic shoppers prefer. Shoppers from Caribbean countries prefer green avocados, which are larger and have smoother skin than the typically stocked Hass variety. Mangos typically carried in U.S. retail stores have a red blush as many U.S. consumers incorrectly associate color with ripeness, but Hispanic shoppers report green and yellow varieties as hard-to-find. As this commodity continues to grow in popularity in the U.S., we recommend increasing the assortment to include several varieties when available, highlighting the unique attributes of each.
Special occasion items
According to our survey, a number of items are considered “must-haves” for Hispanic shoppers on special occasions, including: corn husks, banana leaves, masa, and more. Holidays are a great time to cross-promote with other departments as well, particularly meat and baked goods.
Bonus: Are you prepared for tamal season?
Many Hispanic shoppers recognize mid-December through early January as tamal season—a time to eat tamales! Although various countries of origin shoppers follow different recipes, tamales usually consist of a masa-based dough and meat filling wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf (dependent on origin) and steamed.
More Hispanic shopper insights
To learn more about the purchasing behaviors and motivating shopping factors of U.S. Hispanic shoppers, download our insights paper, What Retailers Need to know about Today’s Hispanic Consumers, and look for part two coming soon!
At Robinson Fresh, we provide consumer and category insights to help grow our customers’ business through our information advantage driving smarter solutions. Connect with one of our fresh experts to talk about how we can put together the right fresh produce program for your business.