Gringos Don’t Get It

Discussion
Jan 30, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Most of the major grocery chains operating in California have come and gone from the heavily Hispanic East San Fernando Valley and that appears to be just alright with the consumers
of the area.


While the major chains have left under-performing stores behind, others such as Vallarta Supermarkets, Superior Super Warehouse and El Super have moved in and prospered, according
to a report on HispanicBusiness.com.


Steve Soto, president and chief executive officer of the Mexican American Grocers Association, says succeeding with Hispanic consumers comes down to speaking their language,
figuratively as well as literally.


“Latinos want to be communicated to in their native language, they want an emphasis on a bigger meat department, bigger produce, more fresh food,” he said. “If Mrs. Gomez walks
in and she only speaks Spanish, but the clerk only speaks English, she’ll walk out and never come back.”


Competition for the growing Hispanic market is intensifying with Mexican chain, Gigante, having announced it plans to open 55 supermarkets in California.


Mr. Soto says it is time for the major chains to get their act together if they truly want to serve the Hispanic consumer market. “The light bulb better go on: ‘Hey I’m doing
something wrong.’ Once Gigante gets there, it’ll be a different ballgame. They’ve got a lot of money, and they’re no-nonsense people.”


Moderator’s Comment: Do the major grocery chains have as great a lack of understanding of Hispanic consumers as portrayed in the HispanicBusiness.com
article?


A Mexican-American business acquaintance once told us that most supermarket chains think that by putting some votive candles and large bags of rice on the
shelf they are catering to Hispanic consumers.

George
Anderson – Moderator

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