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Getting Hispanic consumers to try your place

How do you attract Hispanics to your restaurant? An early-morning session at the Restaurant Leadership Conference answered that question.

The importance of the Hispanic consumer is well known: there are 50.5 million Hispanics in the U.S., according to the 2010 census. That represents a 43 percent population growth, compared with a 1 percent growth in the non-Hispanic population.

In the QSR segment, they ‘re near-ideal customers, visiting more often, buying more items and spending more money than non-Hispanic consumers.

But how do you get them to come to your place? According to research by Univision and Burke, the overriding consideration is: do they feel welcomed? In light of the heated debates over immigration reform, it makes sense. Will they have a cashier or server who values them or who treats them poorly? Training is essential in this regard.

Beyond that, there are four areas that will help spark the Hispanic community to try your concept:

  1. Emphasize the social experience. The Hispanic community values more than non-Hispanics the social aspects of eating out. So have larger tables, let them know they can stay as long as they want. And above all, make them feel welcome.
  2. Offer alternative dayparts. In survey after survey, Hispanics say they want you to open early and stay open late.
  3. They want healthy. In the Burke/Univision survey, Hispanics say they want healthy food for themselves and their kids. They want fresh meat, they want to see their food prepared in front of them. They also want ingredients that resonate on a cultural level. And when it comes to dinner, they will be more interested in trying your concept if you have food reminiscent of home cooking.
  4. Think about language. Not surprisingly, it’s an issue. The most obvious way to address the language barrier is to offer Spanish-language menus. But it’s not always necessary. Among “Spanish-dominant” Hispanics, combo meals sell at higher rates than among non-Hispanics and English-dominant Hispanics. The reason? They can order by pointing to pictures, they can order by number.

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