Commentary

U.S. Consumers Hungry For Latin Flavor

Trader Joe’s recently launched a new seasoning mix, Everything but the Elote. The blend capitalizes on the popularity of “street corn” (also called elote), the savory roasted Mexican mainstay quickly becoming a U.S. phenomenon, pervading food trucks and swank Mexican restaurants across the U.S. 

The spice blend of salt, chile, cheese, chipotle and cumin debuted to rave reviews on Instagram.

It’s another example of cross-culturalism, in which one culture crosses over to broader society, becoming something normal and everyday  to the masses. 

It’s a positive statement by Trader Joe’s on the chic appeal of Latin-themed products. I suspect that at $2.49 per bottle, it will quickly become a favorite not just on corn, but for spicing the most mundane vegetable serving!

Latin flavors have become commonplace across numerous categories. They found their way into beer with chelada and tequila-infused lagers; potato and tortilla chips with limón, or “flamin’ hot” flavoring. Not to mention every time you turn around, there’s chipotle on something -- including an entire chain of restaurants.

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Much of this flavor attention is being driven by the multicultural makeup of millennials and their appetite for experimentation. They’re happy to step out of their safe square meat-and-potatoes meals, unlike older generations.  

The flavor mixes keep evolving as the U.S. population becomes ever more diverse and more Hispanic. Korean bulgogi tacos, chifa and avocado fried rice are just a few examples. The flavor doesn’t stop at your plate or in your glass, either. Don’t forget the flavor of the halftime show during Super Bowl LIV: Latina divas J. Lo and Shakira.

For marketers, there is a unique opportunity to show this ever-important consumer block they are welcomed and acknowledged. For mass consumers, things are thankfully anything but boring. We are living in such a global time that marketers must keep up with the ever-changing flavor profile and cross-cultural influence sweeping the U.S. and the world. It’s no wonder old, traditional brands like McCormick and Campbell are struggling.

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