A Second Opinion
by Andy Hanacek
40 Million People Can’t Be Wrong Am I missing something here?
Why is it that the Latino-American marketplace seems to register as barely a blip on the radar screen of the snack and bakery industries?
Of course, one part of the baking industry caters directly to the Hispanic population in the U.S., and that’s the tortilla industry. And, yes, Flowers Foods, Bimbo Bakeries and several other companies have targeted Hispanics in the past.
But overall, shouldn’t there be more of a concerted effort by manufacturers of traditionally non-Hispanic products to harness the power of the Latino-American consumer base?
It is a group that numbers 40 million in the United States, and that number is growing. The majority of that 40 million is concentrated in 10 major markets, meaning some companies can’t take advantage of their presence yet.
But alarm bells should be going off for any manufacturers in those markets that the time is now to position products toward those potential customers, or say adios to them in the future. Latino-American consumers are intensely brand-loyal, and there is no better time for companies to get their brand in the pantries of those consumers than while they are flooding into the country en masse.
Vitamin Branding Corp. (VBC), manufacturer of Everlast Nutrition energy bars, drinks and vitamin supplements, has made its move, with the release of its newest line, Everlast Nutrition for Latinos, coming in May.
The line will feature a modified Everlast Nutrition logo and eight products — three nutrition bars, one energy drink and four vitamin supplements in flavors inspired by Latino culture.
That’s a category that previously had nothing targeting Latinos specifically. And I’m sure that’s not the only category in which that holds true.
We’ve seen tortilla manufacturers successfully liven up their lines with more “mainstream America” applications for the traditional Mexican tortilla (wraps, flavors such as chocolate for desserts, etc.), but there has been far less innovation in the reverse direction.
Certainly, flavors such as “nacho cheese” and “chipotle pepper” are making the rounds as the most trendy flavor extensions.
But aside from snack food, where else are we seeing Latino influences in products?
Sure, Flowers Foods is set to release a new chipotle bread under its Cobblestone Mill upscale line (see Market Watch, page 18, for more information), but the rest of the bakery industry hasn’t rushed to add Latino inspiration to products.
Why not? Are 40 million potential customers not enough?
First of all, many Latino consumers are very proud of their culture and continue to follow many aspects of it while living here in the U.S. A product to help differentiate their culture from mainstream America might be embraced.
Second, the strategy of naming the line after the culture is perfect promotion, not patronization.
If VBC decided to release energy bars targeted to a field of work, say journalists, wouldn’t many journalists try it at least once? VBC, in effect, is saying, “We have research that says you’ll probably like this, and we’re telling you it’s for you, so try it.”
If I don’t like the product, I’ll simply defenestrate it and move on. But if I do like it, it won’t be thrown out the window, and I’ll probably be quite pleased to enjoy it.
In fact, if I did like the fictitious “Everlast Nutrition for Journalists,” I would try other VBC products based on brand knowledge.
Furthermore, I’d tell my fellow editors that the bar is fantastic and beneficial to folks like us, who need its qualities in our diet. Word of mouth is the best kind of advertising the product can get.
So, kudos to VBC for stepping to the plate with this line. And kudos to Flowers Foods for its bold entry into Latino-inspired product offerings. It’s this kind of outside-the-box thinking, both in the actual product and the marketing strategy, that should help these companies grow well beyond mañana.