Can Mexicans be converted from beer to wine consumers? As a kid growing up I remember my dad coming home from work with a tall can of Sapporo on most weekdays. He always sat in the same seat in the kitchen and chatted with my mom as she cooked dinner. A drink after a long day at work – in his case, in the hot sun – is a pretty common way to relax for many people. For some it may be a glass of wine and for others it may be a beer or a cocktail. For those of us of Mexican heritage here in the U.S, usually, it’s an ice cold beer. According to a 2012 report by market research organization Mintel, wine is the least popular alcoholic beverage among Hispanics. Mintel’s research provides us with some insight into why that may be: Many U.S. Hispanics, particularly Mexicans, have simply not been exposed to wine in their home country. They come from a culture that largely consumes beer or tequila.
My dad surprised me one day when he brought home a bottle of Riunite wine after work. Huh? I’m pretty sure up until that point the only wine that he ever drank was the sacramental wine served in church every Sunday. His boss had given him the bottle.
Over the next 15 years I would come to see my dad’s love for wine grow exponentially. Initially it was slightly odd to me and I was self conscious when he would show up to family gatherings with a bottle of wine rather than a 12-pack of Bud. I thought family and friends would crack jokes (surely they did) about how we were trying to be high-browed or snobby – feelings tied to the fact that my family was raised in a culture in which wine was viewed as a beverage for only the affluent. But in today’s world and dominant market culture, wine is abundant and there is a perfect price point for everyone.
Since my dad brought that first bottle home, I really haven’t seen him touch a beer. Nowadays he is a frequent visitor to wine country, he buys wine by the case and has planted three acres of grapes in his backyard to support his new hobby – making wine. His present day favorites include Cabernets and a wide variety of dessert wines.
Over the years, I have noticed that dessert wines have the strongest appeal to Mexicans who are delving into wine for the first time. This observation is supported by findings from Wine Market Council Research released in January of this year which found that dessert wines were the favorite among Hispanics. In my own family it is the wine that I have seen most successfully convert die hard beer-drinkers into wine drinkers – it’s the gateway wine, if you will. Why is this? Dessert wines are sweet, and easy to drink for “non-sophisticates.” Looking back at it, Riunite was the perfect introduction to wine for my dad. It wasn’t dry and it wasn’t bitter. It was sweet, soft and supposed to be served chilled. Had a Cabernet or Merlot been his first real wine experience, things may very well have turned out differently.
Since there is no prior wine culture or tradition among us, that means there are no rules. Common wine etiquette doesn’t apply. Sure most people are aware that dessert wines are, well, meant to be poured after dinner. But we don’t care. We drink dessert wines before, during and after dinner. We don’t do many food and wine pairings. It’s just not the way we operate. A glass of wine that tastes good while we enjoy the company of our family and friends – that’s what really matters. Of course, that may change as our communities open up to new experiences.
My dad’s success in introducing wine to various family members and friends is proof that it can be done. His hobby as a winemaker has turned him into a bon afide wine aficionado at least in the eyes of our relatives, who frequently ask him if they can bring friends over to his house to try it. Many people bring a bottle themselves, and pretty soon it turns into a tasting of homemade wine and a few brands found at your local Safeway supermarket. It’s a very relaxed and fun environment.
According to the same 2012 Mintel report I cited earlier, the Latino population is one of the largest untapped markets for wine, but that phenomenon is trending in a different direction now. The volume of wine consumed by Hispanics between 2005 and 2010 increased by nearly 50 percent, and levels of acculturation are impacting wine consumption, as a greater proportion of U.S. Hispanics become second and third generation here.
Wine makers need to begin taking baby steps into our community. Why wouldn’t they? Like grapes, the market is ripe for the picking.
Brown University issued a report, Hispanics in the United States: Not Only Mexicans, in March that provides insights into the changing picture of Hispanic populations in the U.S. We summarized some of the study’s main findings and provide some recommendations on how to best use this information when developing communication programs.
1. Socioeconomic advantages for some groups
Some Latino groups have an advantage, socioeconomically, over others. For example, Cubans, Puerto Ricans and South Americans are showing a socioeconomic advantage over Mexicans and Central Americans. All of the South American groups, especially Argentines and Venezuelans, have higher average incomes than the Hispanic average. This is despite the fact that most South Americans are foreign-born.
This new finding is important because marketers looking to target more affluent Hispanics have traditionally communicated in English with the more acculturated (second- and third-generation U.S. born) target. It has been the belief that recently-arrived Hispanics did not have significant socioeconomic power. However, this new finding dispels that belief and tells marketers they should add immigrants to the affluent Hispanic target and include Spanish-language communications in their outreach.
2. Other Latino population growth in top markets
It is well-known that Hispanics have historically concentrated in certain regions of the country. Mexicans live mostly on the West Coast, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans in New York and Cubans in Florida. Although this is still very much the case, new immigrant groups are now settling in these regions and the growth of these dominant groups (Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans) is decreasing. For example, New York’s Puerto Rican population has dropped from 40 percent of local area Latinos in 1990 to 31 percent. The Mexican population in New York City has grown from 4 percent in 1990 to 15 percent. Miami’s Hispanic population is now predominantly Cuban, but the makeup of this population has dropped from 62 percent to 55 percent in the last 20 years. By contrast, the South American population in Miami has increased from 12 percent to 18 percent.
For marketers, this should be a reminder of the ever-changing trends in the Hispanic population. What was true only 20 years ago could very well be different today. It also provides additional opportunities for companies seeking to target a specific segment of the market. For example, distributor Mexilink, an importer of well-known consumer products made in Mexico, owes its success to the nostalgia of Mexicans for the products with which they grew up. Mexilink imports well-known consumer products such as popular hair gel brands and snack items. Based on the results of this study, companies such as Mexilink should now consider increasing their targeting of New York City as a Mexican market for its products.
3. Hispanics are integrating
Another interesting finding from the study is that for the last 20 years most Hispanic groups, with the exception of Mexicans, have become more residentially integrated. In other words, Hispanics are increasingly moving to neighborhoods inhabited by non-Hispanics. The Mexican population is behind this trend likely due to the fact that Mexican communities tend to be large and have well-established roots in neighborhoods throughout the West Coast. Desegregation among other Hispanic groups is happening because smaller immigrant groups are moving to more integrated destinations that may not be known for being traditional Latino neighborhoods.
Knowing this, marketers must understand the cultural sensitivities and keep in mind that when they are directing their communications to non-Latino neighborhoods, they may in fact also be communicating (without knowing) with some Latinos who are integrated into the community. The significance is that local businesses and organizations should take a closer look at updated population data rather than assuming that previous population figures remain stagnant. Take, for example, a local healthcare district; it is important for the district to know if Hispanics are moving there in increasing numbers. The Hispanic population is generally 10 years younger than the non-Hispanic population (average age 26) and, therefore, more likely to be of childbearing age, having more children than non-Hispanics (average of 3.4 versus 2 for non-Hispanics). The Hispanic population is also more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, MTHFR polymorphism (a genetic mutation that affects women in pre-natal stage) and diabetes than non-Hispanics. These statistics appear to hold true regardless of the level of acculturation and country of origin. This is vital information that any healthcare district needs to guide its planning, programs and resources.
Marketing to the Latino Community – First Show You Care
This article was written by Juan Lezama, director of Mosaico, Fineman PR’s multicultural division. It was first published on The Agency Post on November 13. The full text can be found at The Agency Post:
The surge in ethnic population and buying power has won the attention and interest of corporate America. Minorities now account for 37 percent of the U.S. population (114 million), and for the first time, more than half of all children born in the U.S. are non-white. Minority consumers are expected to grow their buying power from $1.6 trillion in 2010 to $2.1 trillion in 2015, accounting for 15 percent of the nation’s total buying power. Among these multicultural markets, the Latino segment is the largest at 50 million strong, equivalent to 16 percent of the U.S. population and with almost a trillion dollars in buying power.
Read the full article at The Agency Post
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If you have been to a West Coast NFL football game lately, you have seen that the fan base is very diverse and within that very diverse fan base, Latinos are well-represented. Although soccer and baseball have traditionally been the sports of preference among Latinos, as U.S. born and immigrant Latinos assimilate, they are rapidly becoming football and basketball fans. It is not uncommon in a Latino household on a Sunday afternoon for a father to be watching soccer, while his children are watching football.
The NFL and NBA see the potential to capture this market; they realize the Latino population tends to be younger and that the Latino youth demographic is especially positioned to grow significantly. Additionally, Latinos in the U.S. tend to be predominantly male and are increasingly enthusiastic sports fans.
Both the NFL and the NBA are actively seeking to make inroads with the Latino community. (more…)