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How to win with Hispanic millennials

hispanic millennials restaurant

From simplifying menus to sourcing locally to digitizing points of service, it’s clear that the restaurant industry today is almost singularly focused on chasing the millennial. And rightly so: They’re the most sought-after customer today for operators with a forward focus.

But what if there’s a specific segment of millennials that’s even more lucrative for operators? The industry is also abuzz with insights about the ever-expanding Hispanic market. Hispanic millennials represent a unique opportunity for operators, but in order to attract them, operators need to understand what makes them tick.

Hispanic millennials by the numbers

With a population of almost 16 million, Hispanic millennials make up approximately 28 percent of the total U.S. Hispanic population, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Additionally, 21 percent of U.S. millennials are Hispanic, with the percentage varying from city to city.

“In many major markets throughout the country, the Hispanic share of the millennial population is even higher,” says Peter Filiaci, vice president of strategy and insights for Univision. He also says that according to Nielsen data, New York, Dallas and Houston all have higher percentages of Hispanic millennials, and in Miami and Los Angeles, Hispanics represent one out of every two millennials. For operators in those areas, winning the dollars of Hispanic millennials is crucial to success.

And those dollars represent another growing opportunity for operators, according to Jackie Dulen Rodriguez, senior manager at Chicago-based research firm Technomic. “The spending power of Hispanic millennials is poised to increase as they get older and as Hispanics as a group become more highly educated and affluent,” she says.

What’s on the menu

According to Univision, Hispanic millennials appear to enjoy the same menu variety as non-Hispanic millennials, but they’re less motivated overall by price and convenience. They also tend to have larger party sizes than non-Hispanic millennials—three people versus two at QSR locations and four people versus three at casual-dining spots. “The ability to accommodate larger parties and to make them feel welcome is something operators need to keep in mind to attract this consumer,” says Filiaci.

In terms of flavor and culinary trends, Rodriguez says that the growing population of Hispanic millennials means that they’re huge drivers of menus. “They have a greater influence on trends, not only as operators try to cater to their tastes, but also across menus as Latin flavors gain popularity,” she says.

Particularly, operators should give special attention to beverages on the menu. According to Univision, Hispanics emphasize drinks and desserts, and both help to drive check averages and items per order. “Hispanics tend to consume both food and beverages on more occasions than non-Hispanics,” says Filiaci. “At QSR, 95 percent of Hispanic millennial purchases include both food and beverage, versus 84 percent for non-Hispanic millennials.” At casual-dining locations, Hispanics look for a variety of alcoholic beverages, so operators should make sure to offer unique non-alcoholic options as well as a mix of beer, wine and specialty cocktails.

Culture and connection

Like millennials as a whole, Hispanic millennials are heavy users of technology and social media—and in some cases, they use it even more.

According to Univision’s Casual Dining Landscape research, conducted in conjunction with international consulting firm Burke, Inc., Hispanic millennials were anywhere from 45-75 percent more likely than non-Hispanic millennials to engage in digital activities such as using mobile coupons, downloading a restaurant’s app, checking in at a restaurant or liking a restaurant on Facebook. This means that in order to win over Hispanic millennials, it’s critical for operators to make digital interaction and social media a priority.

However, it’s not only about how operators make a connection with Hispanic millennials—it’s also important that the message is relevant to them. Filiaci points out that the connection to Hispanic culture is very important to both U.S.-born and foreign-born Hispanic millennials; a vast majority (at least 80 percent) speak Spanish to some degree and want to maintain their Hispanic culture, according to data from researchers Experian Simmons and Mintel. “This connection to the culture underscores the need for operators to include Spanish-language marketing to better connect with this consumer,” Filiaci says.

Rodriguez agrees. “Hispanic millennials often are bilingual or Spanish-speaking, and we find the Spanish language to be a unifying element among different Latino groups,” she says. “As such, Hispanic millennials are receptive to marketing messages that recognize their Spanish-speaking identity or their bicultural interests.”

A family affair

Although much of Hispanic millennials’ behavior overlaps with non-Hispanic millennials, one of the biggest differences between these segments lies in eating occasions. Family and community are high priorities for Hispanic millennials, and they, like other Hispanic consumers, view restaurants as a place to connect with family and friends—something that affects their dining-out decision making, according to Rodriguez.

“On the LSR side, interestingly, younger Hispanics were just as likely as older Hispanics to visit family-style restaurants,” she says. “This connects to their larger family size in general and to their perception of dining as group or family-oriented social occasion.”

According to Filiaci, Hispanic millennials’ view of dining out as an opportunity for connection stems from their family structures as well as Hispanic culture overall. “Hispanic millennials are much more likely to have children than non-Hispanic millennials,” he says. “Part of it is driven by the culture as well; Hispanics are more likely to say that their visits are an opportunity for a social occasion or for a celebration.”

For more insights and tips for attracting Hispanic consumers, visit Univision Communications here.

This post is sponsored by Univision Communications, Inc.

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