Chicago, IL — May 5, 2002 — A new Food Marketing Institute (FMI) report released here today provides retailers a blueprint on how to serve the fastest-growing consumer segment in the U.S. — Hispanic families, which had purchasing power of $542 billion in 2001. The report, U.S. Hispanics: Insights Into Grocery Shopping Preferences and Attitudes, 2002 shows that U.S. Hispanics are by no means a homogeneous market, but that they share many common demands and needs.

The study finds that Hispanic shoppers are especially interested in supermarkets that respond to their needs by offering:

  • A variety of fresh produce, meats and breads
  • Hispanic products
  • Bilingual store signs and packages
  • Bilingual employees that are knowledgeable about
  • Hispanic products
  • Advertisements in Hispanic and Spanish-language media
  • Promotions that pay attention to family needs

The number of Hispanics in the United States increased 58 percent from 1990 to 2000, surpassing African Americans as the nation’s largest minority market with 35.3 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2010 their population is projected to be 43.7 million and by 2020, 55.2 million, accounting for 17 percent of the U.S. population.

View of the Supermarket

Like other American consumers, U.S. Hispanics frequent supermarkets most often for basic grocery purchases. However, they are much more likely to visit independent bakeries and butcher shops than other shoppers. More than half of Hispanic shoppers regularly visit these types of stores. They also frequent other formats, particularly discount stores, for cleaning products, paper goods, personal care items and other necessities.

Consumption Habits

With larger households and lower incomes, Hispanic shoppers tend to budget more often than other market segments. They nearly always plan their trip by preparing a shopping list and by looking at weekly circulars and advertisements for specials and comparing prices at different stores. Interestingly, despite the practice of economizing behaviors, Hispanic households tend to spend more on groceries each week than other shoppers - $117 vs. $87 per week.

Hispanic shoppers usually do not shop alone and, in fact, view grocery trips as a family affair. More than half shop with another adult from the household and 15 percent shop with children.

Mealtimes are a valued and prized tradition for U.S. Hispanics, but they rarely eat main meals outside of the home. Out of seven main meals during the week, U.S. Hispanics eat their evening meal away from home 1.2 times per week on average, substantially less than other consumers. Higher income and younger Hispanics are the most likely to dine out. When eating at home, most prefer to prepare meals from scratch and 85 percent make traditional Hispanic meals.

Purchasing Behavior

In considering promotions and advertisements, food retailers need to realize that the type of language used in advertising highly influences U.S. Hispanics, according to the report.

Forty-four percent of Hispanic grocery shoppers indicate that advertisements in Hispanic and Spanish-language newspapers frequently influence them, compared with 31 percent of ads in English newspapers. Special displays at the grocery store also attract the attention of Hispanic shoppers, with nearly three-quarters influenced by these.

Although low prices are rated very important by 92 percent of Hispanic grocery shoppers, 75 percent say that the availability of name brands is very important in deciding where to shop. In comparison, approximately 50 percent say that the availability of lower-priced private label or store brands is a very important consideration. Overall, U.S. Hispanics tend to be much more brand-loyal than other consumers.


The report explains that U.S. Hispanics’ view of the supermarket may have much to do with their level of acculturation –- the adaptation to the new cultural patterns of a dominant culture. Elements of acculturation include country of birth, length of residence, geography and language.

In addition to differences by acculturated levels, the report defines four distinct Hispanic customer segments:

Economists: This group has the highest percentage of Hispanics born in the U.S., and those foreign-born have lived here longer (an average of 18 years) than the other groups. They frequent supermarkets most often (5.1 visits per month) and shop less at other types of stores. They have the highest household income and are the least likely to set a grocery budget; still, they are adamant about checking advertisements for specials and stocking up on bargains.

Loyalists: With the highest percentage of Hispanics that have lived in the U.S. for less than five years and the second highest group with household members that speak Spanish-only, loyalists are characterized by their practice of preparing a shopping list and sticking to it. They are also the most likely to stay loyal to one store for their shopping needs and are less price-sensitive than other groups. They are the least likely group to shop at stores other than their primary store.

Pricehunters: The most price-sensitive group, Pricehunters are noted for their tendency to shop around at many different stores. Advertised specials are very important, as is planning for the shopping trip. They are the youngest household and the most likely to have children at home.

Traditionalists: Nearly 79 percent of this group speak Spanish nearly all of the time and are heavily influenced by supermarket ads presented in their native language. This group has the lowest percentage of U.S.-born Hispanics (9 percent) and the lowest household income of all Hispanic segments. They set strict budgets, but spend more ($121 per week) than other groups. They are the most likely Hispanic group to shop at multiple store formats.

Data Tabulation

Results of the study are based on 1,200 telephone interviews with Hispanic grocery shoppers: 1,000 in the top 10 Hispanic markets in the United States and 200 in Puerto Rico. The interviews were conducted in the months of November and December of 2001. Results for the total sample of U.S. markets were weighted according to population in order to be representative of the total U.S. Hispanic population.

The report was sponsored by Kraft Foods, Inc., The Procter & Gamble Company, Inc. and The Kellogg Company, Inc..

To purchase U.S. Hispanics: Insights Into Grocery Shopping Preferences and Attitudes, 2002 ($50 FMI members, $127 associate members and $150 nonmembers), contact FMI Publication and Video Sales at (202) 220-0723.