The Power and Influence of the Hispanic Super Consumer by Stacie de Armas
Walk into any supermarket these days, and you can’t help but notice that America’s taste buds have changed drastically in recent years: jalapeño potato chips, dulce de leche coffee creamer, piña colada yogurt, lime-flavored beer, and the list goes on and on.
The source of these flavors is, of course, Hispanic culture. Companies are increasingly becoming aware that if they want to remain relevant into the 21st century, they have to cater to and market to the burgeoning Latino demographic and its diverse tastes. By 2060, Latinos will make up almost a third of the U.S. population, and account for a staggering 85 percent of the nation’s growth, according to recent Census projections.
But what is also at work is a more subtle shift – the influence of Hispanics on non-Hispanics around them. It is what we at Nielsen call the Hispanic Super Consumer phenomenon.
According to our research contained in the recent The Multicultural Edge: Rising Super Consumers report, these super consumers form the top 10 percent of household consumers. They drive at least 30 percent of sales, 40 percent of the growth and 50 percent of profits. The Multicultural Edge report also reveals that the average super consumer super-consumes in at least nine categories.
Hispanics are big super consumers. They over index on categories across the board: toiletries and cosmetics, rice and beans, baby needs and school supplies, vegetables and meal starter kits, to name just a few.
They are also super consumers of social media, and compared to other multicultural groups, are bigger users of social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Online, in other words, is increasingly becoming the place to reach Hispanics.
Moreover, Hispanics skew younger, meaning they also have more years of purchasing power ahead of them, way more, in fact. Using median age and life expectancy rates, The Multicultural Edge report calculates that the average Hispanic has 56.5 years of effective buying power as compared to 36.7 years for a non-Hispanic white. That’s a lot of buying. By the way, that also exceeds the rates for African-Americans (42 years) and Asian-Americans (52 years).
So what happens when you combine all of these factors? Nielsen found that in geographical areas where Hispanics are the majority, such as in the southwest and west, for instance, they influence what non-Hispanics consume, too.
Hot sauces and noodles are a good example. According to our research, non-Hispanic whites who live in urban areas with large Latino and Asian populations consume more spicy condiments and noodles than their counterparts in other parts of the country.
Simply placing an “ethnic” product in a mainstream supermarket in a diverse neighborhood can thus be a gateway to larger brand growth. When a product gains acceptance with one segment of non-traditional consumers, that foothold can be leveraged to drive brand expansion with the overall demographic.
This paradigm has welcomed repercussions on American culture and society at large. The stigma of difference that once marginalized Hispanic and other multicultural groups is giving way to the recognition that difference is interesting and cool, and also worthy of respect and appreciation.
Habanero guacamole tortilla chip, anyone?
Stacie M. de Armas is Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Consumer Engagement for Nielsen.