Sales-minded restaurant operators have figured out that success in the future hinges on establishing a relationship with America’s growing population of Hispanic consumers. The demographic group was responsible for 20 percent of the 61 billion visits to restaurants in 2015, according to research from The NPD Group. And restaurant visits by Hispanics grew 1 percent in 2015, while non-Hispanic traffic remained flat. Here’s how some chains—the latest winners of Univision’s 2016 Trailblazer Awards in the following six categories—are making the connection. The awards were presented earlier this spring at the Restaurant Leadership Conference.
Menu innovator: Burger King
Hispanic visits to the chain are up, in part because of a balanced focus on premium food and value to drive traffic. Its 10-piece nuggets for $1.49 hit a home run for those looking for a good price. Too, when the chain brought back its chicken fries, it added Buffalo and Fiery variations that resonated with the Hispanic market.
Family focused: Popeyes
The only thing that comes in front of food in the Latin community is family, according to Univision’s Peter Filiaci. So the chain promoted the variety in its meals in order to resonate with families serving multiple people. Some 20 percent of the chain’s traffic is from Hispanics, but half of those visits include kids, compared to only a third of the non-Hispanic crowd.
Share shifter: Starbucks
Starbucks has made strides with the Hispanic market two years in a row, with double-digit growth among these consumers in the past year, compared to a 4 percent bump from non-Hispanics. While Filiaci and NPD both noted that there’s still opportunity in the coffee market for operators to win over Hispanics, one in five Starbucks visits are Latino guests.
Newcomer of the Year: Applebee's
The chain has increased its emphasis on attracting the Hispanic population, in part by extending its reach with Spanish-language commercials. While it didn’t bring in a new marketing team, said Julia Stewart, CEO of parent DineEquity, it did have to focus on where the opportunity was—not just the heavily penetrated markets but also the fast-growing areas that present opportunities. The result of the early efforts: Hispanic visits to Applebee’s grew 7 percent and sales were up 9 percent.