The Latino-Infused CPG

A few decades ago, Frito-Lay was onto something. The year was 1994 and they realized that there were a lot of Latinos in Los Angeles. They also realized that Latinos had different taste palates and over-indexed in the salty snacks category. So they decided to launch “Sabrositas,” a series of Latino-infused (Limón, Chile, etc.) line extensions for the Frito-Lay brand.  

A few years later, Frito built on this launch by introducing Doritos Salsa Verde and Lays Con Limon, among others. Many of these SKUs have had a successful life. On the contrary, General Mills launched Buñuelitos the same year and discontinued it before the year was up.

I could name many Latino-inspired product launches: Dole Aguas Frescas, Gatorade Xtremo, Kisses con Cajeta, Coke Limon, Pepsi Limon, Mayo con Limón, PepsiSi, General Mills Para Su Familia, Jolly Rancher Paletas. Let’s not forget MillerCoors’ hottest new product, Zumbida.



Some of these are really cool, some have maintained market share and some have been discontinued. Why have some of these products failed, while others were successful? The answer is not always clear-cut. Before we peel the onion, you must first understand the considerations that dictate whether a product will be successful or not.

A good place to start is NewProductWorks, also known as the “museum of failed products.” Any marketer launching a product must consider this, making it possible to learn from other people’s failures. Although you can easily “infuse” Latino culture into a new product or product line, ask yourself if it is a good idea.

The approaches I have seen for Latino-inspired products fall into one of three categories. Keep in mind I am talking about brands that don’t have a “Hispanic legacy” as Goya does.

1.  Latino Brands: When a manufacturer creates a new brand with a Hispanic name and identity only (e.g., General Mills Buñuelitos).

2.   Latino Brand extension: When manufacturers grab an existing macro brand and “Latinize” it by infusing a flavor or creating a new line of flavors.

3.  Brand Latinization (e.g., PepsiSí): When a manufacturer alters his product identity and adds a name or design to make it feel more Hispanic, but doesn’t necessarily alter the product.

What is critical for long-term success of new Hispanic products, regardless of the category, is scale. Some of the most successful Hispanic-inspired product launches were always eyeing the general market consumer (e.g., Doritos salsa verde). Instead of thinking of your product as a Hispanic-targeted product launch, think of it a “Hispanic Trojan horse.” Scale will not only increase the chances of success but also help with the economics of product development (manufacturing, packaging, distribution, etc).

Remember, the retailer is not interested in a “one-night wonder.” It wants shopper loyalty, category growth, basket size growth and increased trips. In preparing shopper plans for a Hispanic-inspired CPG product, think about what you are doing to check off these “buyer boxes”:  

  • Customize tactics by retailer but think about the need for continuity beyond your first quarter. 
  • Leverage digital and social media to create scale so that the product transcends core Hispanic customers into “ethnic-flavor lovers.” 
  • Weave purchase data or retailer data into your social and retailer digital targeting strategy to ensure you have more accuracy and less waste. 
  • Relevant and effective cross merchandising and seasonal shopper offers.
  • Don’t forget word of mouth plays an even greater role with this community so sampling and sharing the new experience will be critical.
1 comment about "The Latino-Infused CPG".
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  1. Mario Carrasco from ThinkNow, September 16, 2016 at 6:15 p.m.

    think of it a “Hispanic Trojan horse.” - I like this idea. Applicable beyond the CPG space. Great article, Roberto.

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