Hispanic shopping: one size does not fit all generations.

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Jul 31, 2023 | Culture, Strategy

The Hispanic market represents a critical and rapidly growing demographic for brands today. However, marketers who take a one-size-fits-all approach to targeting this diverse community are missing key opportunities for connection. Generational divides shape distinct shopping behaviors, attitudes and values among Hispanic consumers. While Hispanic boomers display enduring brand loyalty rooted in their early experiences and life stage, millennials and Gen Z show more willingness to experiment, desire for customization, and comfort with digital experiences. The brands that will win with Hispanics are those that avoid generalization. By tailoring messaging and experiences to the unique shopping habits of each generation, marketers can foster deeper, lasting bonds across generations of Hispanic consumers. Taking the time to understand generational nuances is an investment that allows brands to grow alongside Hispanic communities for the long-term.

Boomers: The Status Quo

Here are a few key ways Hispanic boomer consumers (born approximately 1946-1964) tend to shop differently than Hispanic millennials and Gen Z:

  • More brand loyal: Hispanic boomers tend to be more brand loyal and gravitate towards brands they know and trust. They may be less likely to take risks on new or unknown brands.
  • More bargain focused: Price and finding a good deal is often important to boomer shoppers. They are frequently looking for sales, coupons, loyalty programs, etc. to maximize value.
  • Less online shopping: Hispanic boomers generally do less shopping online compared to younger generations who are digital natives. Boomers often prefer seeing/touching products in person.
  • Focus on quality: Hispanic boomers tend to focus more on product quality and durability. They may be willing to pay more for products that will last.
  • In-store shopping: Boomers enjoy going to brick-and-mortar stores to shop. The in-person shopping experience is more important to them than convenience.
  • Less impulse buying: Younger shoppers tend to be more impulse-driven. Boomers are more deliberate and selective when making purchases.
    Traditional payment: Boomers use cash, checks and traditional credit cards more. Younger generations are more likely to use newer digital payment methods like Apple Pay or PayPal.

Hispanic boomers grew up in an era when choice was more limited. Many consumer product categories were dominated by just a handful of major national brands, and boomers formed strong attachments to the brands they knew and trusted. For example, in the 1950s and 60s, Coca-Cola and Pepsi represented a large majority of the soft drink market. Boomers who grew up drinking Coke would be inclined to stick with Coke into adulthood rather than try an unfamiliar cola brand.

This loyalty extended beyond beverages into things like breakfast cereal (General Mills, Kellogg’s), hygiene and beauty products (P&G brands like Tide, Pantene), and automobiles (domestic brands like Ford, GM). By consistently delivering on quality and value over many years, these big brands engendered loyalty that Hispanic boomers came to rely on.

In contrast, millennials and Gen Z have grown up in a consumer environment defined by a proliferation of choices. Retail shelves and online stores now offer a dizzying array of brands clamoring for attention. Young Hispanics today feel less beholden to traditional mega brands and are more willing to experiment with alternatives, particularly brands that are perceived as new, trendy or niche. Their preference is to keep their options open rather than commit loyalty to a single brand.

Beyond habits formed in youth, boomers’ stronger sense of brand loyalty today is also related to their stage of life. As they age and face cognitive decline, sticking with familiar brands is comfortable and avoids confusion that comes with change. Retiring boomers on fixed incomes also have incentive to seek value in the brands they know will deliver quality for the price rather than risk disappointment from trying something new.

For marketers, Hispanic boomers’ brand loyalty presents an opportunity to further strengthen relationships with brands they already use. Effective tactics include emphasizing tradition, nostalgia and heritage in messaging to appeal to boomers’ memories over decades. Providing loyalty rewards, discounts and VIP treatment to long-term boomer customers also helps cement their allegiances. However, marketers must avoid changes that undermine the brand familiarity boomers rely on. Attempts to seem trendier or younger in branding risk alienating loyal older customers.

There are a few key reasons why Hispanic boomers tend to be more bargain-focused shoppers compared to younger generations, even if they have disposable income:

Frugality and saving money is ingrained.

Many Hispanic boomers were raised with values of frugality and stewardship. Wasting money or overspending was frowned upon. They learned skills like budgeting, clipping coupons and waiting for sales. These habits became ingrained at a young age and stuck with them even as they aged. Getting a deal gives a sense of satisfaction and achievement.

Retirement planning

Hispanic boomers today often have retirement on their minds. Even those with decent nest eggs want to make the most of their savings and avoid running out of money in old age. Sticking to a budget and not overpaying unnecessarily helps boomers prolong their retirement finances.

Fixed incomes

Some boomers are fully retired now and living on fixed incomes from social security, pensions or retirement savings. They have an increased incentive to spend wisely and make the most of limited funds. Finding bargains allows money to stretch further.

Debt avoidance

After witnessing economic ups and downs, many boomers are averse to taking on consumer debt, whether via credit cards or financing options. They grew up in an era when frugality was prioritized over buying on credit. Even if they have discretionary money, bargains allow them to save rather than debt finance purchases.

Value Over Status

Unlike younger consumers who may buy certain brands as status symbols, Hispanic boomers generally care more about functional value – getting quality at a good price. Name brands are less important to them if the product does not deliver value. They pride themselves on being informed shoppers.

Brands can appeal to younger Hispanic generations without alienating loyal boomer consumers through some careful balancing acts in their marketing:

  • Use multiple media channels – Increase digital marketing on social, mobile, streaming etc. for millennials/Gen Z, while still doing traditional TV, radio, print ads to reach boomers.
  • Segment in-store marketing – Design designated sections of stores/websites for trendy new products targeted at younger demographics, while maintaining the classic brand image boomers know in other areas.
  • Focus ad messaging on values important to each demographic – For younger consumers emphasize things like entrepreneurship, cultural pride, social causes. For boomers focus on tradition, supporting family, and lifetime loyalty.
  • Create sub-brands or product lines – Develop offshoot brands with separate names/packaging that attract younger shoppers seeking new and exciting. But maintain the core brand identity boomers recognize.
  • Enlist Hispanic influencers – Leverage young Hispanic social media influencers to organically promote products to millennials/Gen Z. But have traditional celebrity endorsers to appeal to boomers.
  • Omnichannel experience – Blend physical store and online options to give choice. Many boomers still want to see/touch products in person, while younger consumers prefer ordering online or via apps.
  • Customer loyalty programs – Offer enhanced rewards and VIP access to loyal older customers who have purchased the brand for years. Give new digital perks on apps for millennials/Gen Z.

The key is to progress the brand in ways appealing to younger demographics but without suddenly overhauling the brand identity and losing trust. A balanced effort preserves that crossover appeal.

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