Many executives assume that the need for a Hispanic marketing program stems from a language barrier. Since US Hispanic growth is mostly due to births, they conclude, investments in Hispanic marketing are not necessary as the new Latino generation will speak English and grow up in mainstream culture. Similar logic applies to targeting African-Americans.
Here’s one example that would prove otherwise: Jeans. As I passed store windows on my way to a meeting in Washington Heights, a mostly Dominican neighborhood in northern Manhattan, I noticed a mannequin that was turned around to show how the jeans would look on a woman’s curvy back side. Now, compare that to the more “boyish” figures of Gap and American Eagle mannequins in midtown Manhattan that cater to the mainstream young US shopper – none of which were turned around to show the fit from behind.
When merchandising pants for ethnic shoppers, executives must consider that some cultures believe buttocks play a role in sexual attraction. In fact, both Hispanics and African-Americans highly value their curves and see a big, round butt as a positive beauty attribute. That is not the case for the Anglo and Asian cultures.
Ideally, retailers would change their merchandising strategy for stores in highly Hispanic areas to showcase apparel in ways that are relevant to Latinos. However, where this is not possible due to systems and process constraints, retailers can use online media to showcase features that Hispanics care about such as how pants fit on the bottom.
With Hispanics spending 17% more on apparel and services ($1,989 per year vs. $1,706 for non-Hispanics – 2011 Consumer Expenditure Survey) it is in apparel retailers’ best interest to maximize sales and profits by focusing on the unique needs of Hispanic shoppers beyond language.