I was visiting my local grocery store, Sun Fresh Markets by Minyards, in Dallas this week. Think of the format as Minyards trying its best to look like the cool kid on the block (Whole Foods), but as hard as it tries, it’s still not the real McCoy. They have a nice logo with a sun on it and the word “fresh” in the banner, yet they still sell Sunny Delight.
I needed to get some juice for my daughter’s soccer match (yes, it was my turn for snacks). So, as I was frantically looking for the juices, something caught my eye, it was the sign for the juice aisle. When I saw it, I learned that there is a new category of juices. You see, in life there is “juice,” there is “natural juice,” “box juice” and then there is “Hispanic juice.”
I could not resist taking a picture and posting it on Facebook. For some reason, I found this funny. Is it because Hispanic juice is not natural? Is it because Hispanic juice is made by Hispanics? Needless to say, the responses I got were very funny. All my Hispanic friends were laughing, making wisecracks like “Hey, that could be Pisco or Horchata,” and “Hispanic Juice = Sunny Delight.” The list goes on.
I reflected on this throughout the day and went back to the store later in the week, this time wearing my “shopper marketing hat,” not my “soccer dad” hat. As you can expect, they sell brands like Jumex, Goya, etc., in this section, but the store format is not “Hispanic” (i.e., Fiesta, Vallarta, El Super, El Rancho, etc).
There has always been debate by grocers on how to handle ethnic product placements ranging from “store within a store” concepts, as part of a separate category, to sections with dedicated Hispanic banners. In actuality, Hispanic shoppers prefer to find their brands in the corresponding aisle (i.e., Jumex in the juice aisle, Maseca in the flour aisle, Mexican Coke in the soft drink aisle), because like all other shoppers, you they want to naturally shop for a category, not be on some sort of time-consuming hunt for a brand in another “Hispanic aisle.”
One observation: what was humorous to my Hispanic friends, and my friends in Hispanic marketing, on Facebook, was very telling. This is about the influence of ethnic foods on the mainstream. Should you come across Mintel’s ethnic foods trend report or Nielsen’s report on “fresh foods are the CPG gateway to the Hispanic opportunity,” you will understand why. The 2014 Mintel study highlights the fact that from 2008 to 2013 ethnic foods grew 15%.
According to the Nielsen report, the Jumex brand has a 47% share contribution from non-Hispanic households…almost half. The emotional driver for shoppers is obviously authenticity. As U.S. Hispanic influence grows, non-Hispanic shoppers are interested in more original and complex flavors. Not to mention that Hispanic shoppers in “minority majority markets” are looking for these flavors, not just a quest to try something different, but because this is the everyday authenticity they want.
As I was writing the article I said to myself: why not just ask Sun Fresh what they meant by “Hispanic juice.” Ah, the power of Twitter. After asking @SunFreshDFW, I got a kind reply. “We were referring to Goya Juice & Jumex Nectar, located in that aisle. But we will change this aisle sign to ‘Juice’ reflect all juices in the aisle. Thank you for your feedback.”
I really did not want to get anyone in trouble here, nor did I want to change your signs. Thank you, Sun Fresh? Although to some of us it may have been funny or disrespectful, having a “Hispanic juice” sign, in my opinion, was not such a bad thing. It really did not need changing. Maybe management thought of it as a little “risky?” To non-Hispanics, this will immediately indicate where they can find those exotic flavors they are looking to experiment with and taste; for Hispanics, it’s just a cue that their beloved “jugos” are in the aisle. The sign made the shopper’s life easier and that is what mattered, even though I got a chuckle.