Retailers Could Aid Economic Recovery By Courting Hispanic “Super Consumers”

Writer Glen Llopis, who “focuses on bringing the immigrant perspective to business leadership and workplace innovation to cultivate growth for corporations,” says he’s surprised more businesses aren’t aggressively courting the Latino dollar given that their position in the marketplace makes them the perfect group to save America’s economy.

“Put another way,” Llopis says of the group’s unprecedented 1.2 trillion dollar buying power, “Hispanics are achieving a status as super-consumers that is making other minority groups and even the mainstream consumer look anemic.”

One company Llopis cites as having figured this out is Walmart. The discount chain has attracted increasing numbers of Hispanics to their stores by considering the group’s needs in all facets of its business. Not just marketing, but merchandising operations, and community outreach programs.

Here in Texas, for example, Walmart just gave a $100,000 donation toward a one-year curriculum-development project to improve the understanding of Tejano (Texans of Hispanic descent) history in the state’s elementary schools. The project is part of the dedication of the state’s first, official, Tejano monument that was unveiled last month at the Texas State Capitol. At the unveiling, a semi truck featuring a huge Wal-Mart logo was parked in front of the Capitol grounds while Wal-Mart employees handed out free bottles of water to the crowd.

That’s a smart move in a state where the Hispanic population earned four new Congressional seats due to their growth in the past decade.

Llopis offers some questions to ask about whether your brand is prepared to be relevant to this new super consumer.

  • Do you have a long-term strategy, starting with your top leaders, to attract Hispanic consumers who can trust and build your brand?
  • Do you show support for the community and advocate for their issues?
  • Is your organization making the right investments, including bilingual/bi-cultural leaders, at all levels of the company?

He also adds that brick and mortar companies need to put away their old way of doing business and embrace the Latino preference for online. “This last point is especially relevant,” Llopis says, “As Hispanics are projected to spend $17.6B on mobile devices in 2012, and are more likely to research products, compare prices, and make purchases with their phones than other groups.”

Francisco Bethencourt, a Fortune 500 Multicultural Global Executive adds, “Today, technologies have enabled consumers to be more effective in how they express their opinions. Consumers tend to buy your product not on what you sell, but more on why you do it and how you do it. Emotional engagement is a key component of the game of gaining consumers.”