When I started my career in marketing back in the early 2000s, Hispanic marketing was a tremendous career growth opportunity. The Latino market was underserved and Hispanic marketing expertise was at a premium as many companies across industries where trying to figure out how to win with this elusive consumer. Hispanic agencies and different marketing approaches emerged; companies invested billions of dollars in their Hispanic marketing efforts.
I became a brand marketing expert first in the general market and then developed a strong expertise in helping companies win with Hispanic consumers. This expertise has served me well helping me grow my career as a marketer. But the market has evolved and I have evolved with it. Pure Hispanic marketing is no longer a growth arena as the total market model has been widely embraced by marketers, manufacturers and retailers.
Over the last few years, I found another high-growth market opportunity that I have also been building expertise in: Marketing Hispanic food products to the mainstream.
The growth of Mexican food and flavors is the best example of this trend. According to Mintel Menu Insights, Mexican-inspired core menu items grew 5% in the first quarter of last year. Mexican food is now the third most popular food in the U.S. after American and Italian as 15% of main meal items featured on menus are Mexican-inspired. The popularity of Mexican food spans across all restaurant types, from fine dining to quick service. Mexican food is now the second most popular ethnic/ international food prepared at home in U.S. kitchens, only behind Italian food.
Its popularity at restaurants is fueling the growth of Mexican food at retail among mainstream consumers. I see this every day (I lead marketing for a company specialized in Hispanic dairy products). The biggest growth potential for us is no longer selling Hispanic food products to Hispanic consumers but selling Hispanic food products to mainstream consumers. This is also the case with many other companies.
After all, the market for Hispanic foods and beverages is expected to grow to $10.7 billion by next year, according to Packaged Facts. Hispanic food spending at retail grew 80%+ over the past decade (twice the growth rate of overall consumers).
As more companies jump into the fray and try to capitalize on this market opportunity, a need has arisen for innovation and marketing expertise that make these Hispanic products more relevant to the mainstream consumer.
I have seen many times how mainstream consumers who loved our Hispanic foods when they tasted them at restaurants can’t even identify them in the store. Taking mainstream consumers by the hand in this process of educating them about how to find the Hispanic food they love at retail, how to enjoy them in delicious Hispanic recipes and how to package them in ways that offer increased convenience, relevance and ease of enjoyment constitutes a great opportunity for marketers and the companies that employ them.
I, for one, will continue to hone my expertise in this emerging niche of marketing Hispanic products to the mainstream. The growth potential is terrific as many companies are struggling how to figure out how to do this with excellence.
So if you are a marketer who has made a career out of marketing to Hispanics and if you feel that the career and growth opportunities are no longer what they used to be, I urge you to look where the growth is, where you can also leverage your expertise. Instead of marketing to Hispanics, consider marketing Hispanic products to the rest of the marketplace, American mainstream consumers will thank you for it.