Ethnic flavors: A big opportunity for retailers

by Joel Crews
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Multicultural woman shopping for groceries
The buying power of multicultural consumers has resulted in an “unparalleled influence on the marketplace."

NEW YORK — The buying power of multicultural consumers at the retail level has resulted in an “unparalleled influence on the marketplace,” according to a Feb. 16 report from Nielsen. This segment of retail consumers spends more in the meat and seafood departments than any other fresh department, according to the report, “A Fresh Look at Multicultural Consumers.”

Meanwhile, in the deli, flavor profiles influenced by multiple cultures have evolved to mainstream status, and demand for them is continuing to grow. The availability of bulk quantities of fresh food in the deli also is fueling growth.

Fresh food purchases in the United States are influenced by the native food preferences among Asian Americans, Hispanics and African Americans. These multicultural households, Nielsen said, “spend a higher share on fresh as a percentage of their total food spend compared to non-Hispanic White households” who tend to opt for convenience over fresh.

The multicultural portion of shoppers represents a $2.2 billion opportunity for retailers, as Nielsen found the segment makes 3% more trips to the store and spends 4% more on fresh food than its counterparts.

Multicultural woman shopping for groceries
The multicultural portion of shoppers represents a $2.2 billion opportunity for retailers.

Opportunistic retailers have plenty to gain by appealing to multicultural shoppers, said Courtney Jones, vice-president of multicultural growth and strategy for Nielsen.

“In order to tap this critical market, retailers need to rethink their delivery and assortment strategies of fresh products being offered to today’s increasingly multicultural shoppers,” Ms. Jones said. “To be successful, retailers must understand the importance that culturally relevant, fresh offerings play in the multicultural shopper landscape.”

While ethnic flavors are growing in popularity among specific cultural groups, they are not being ignored by mainstream shoppers, Nielsen said, which is another opportunity retailers should not ignore.

“Retailers must consider the multi-ethnic tastes of their current and desired customers and recognize that the palates that favor multicultural flavors are influencing the taste preferences of non-Hispanic whites and society at-large,” Ms. Jones said.
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