latino lingo

All things related to effective Hispanic marketing, Hispanic advertising and Hispanic public relations.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Wanted: Hispanics to eat at Taco Bell

AdAge reports that Taco Bell is struggling to attract Latinos. OK, let's think of the many natural jokes we can think of with their "Head for the Border" tag line and Latinos :-)

According to the article, Latinos have contributed just a half-percent to the company's same-store-sales gain of 7% in 2005, despite making up 20% of Taco Bell's core 18-to-34-year-old target market.

The article discusses whether the issue is the message or the product.

"It's not really Mexican food or food that unacculturated Hispanics know from their home country," Everett Hernandez, senior VP-general manager, diversity for market-research firm Synovate, is quoted as saying in the article.

Having traveled to Mexico, that is absolutely true. Then again, that's like saying Pizza Hut isn't really Italian. Of course, it's not authentic. It's American fast food. Period.

To me it is the product more than the message. Why Taco Bell would wonder why they are not appealing to Hispanics is beyond me. While I'm not Mexican, I can't imagine a Mexican who is craving a burrito having the Taco Bell $0.99 bean burrito top of mind.

Carl Kravetz, chairman-chief strategic officer of Cruz/Kravetz: Ideas, Los Angeles says it best in the article:

"If they want to broaden their Hispanic market ... their issue is authenticity, and they have a lot of years of not being perceived as authentic to break through ... If they say they deliver good Mexican food to [Hispanics] they won't be believed. If they say they have good, filling, cheap American food, they may have a chance."

Taco Bell is making strides to improve its product offering like adding carnitas, according to the article.

However, products alone aren't enough. Culturally, they need to appeal to a wide range of Latinos, not just Mexicans. Meal time is an important issue for Latinos and we tend to seek out a family oriented restaurant. This was supported in a Woelfel Research study released last October. In my Donde Vamos for Dinner posting, I wrote about some of the results of the study. Namely, Latinos view dining out as a family affair in which the menu variety, low prices and a friendly atmosphere for children are top-of-mind when deciding where and what to eat.


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