Incredible Breakfast Trends

Hispanic Table Stakes

Our country is home to a Hispanic population second only to that of Mexico. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics in the U.S. numbered 54 million (17% of the population) as of July 2013, making it indisputably the largest ethnic demographic group in the U.S., and projected to reach 129 million (31% of the U.S. total) by 2060.

If those numbers aren’t enough to grab marketers’ attention, the Selig Center for Economic Growth projects this group will control U.S. buying power of $1.5 trillion in 2015. But American businesspeople wanting to connect with this demographic may be surprised to find out who they’re actually trying to reach:

  • As of 2012, 65 percent of the then current Hispanic population was U.S. born and that percentage can only rise, as births in recent years far outweigh the number of immigrants.
  • The median age for U.S. Hispanics is currently 28 and trending downward, reflecting the importance of U.S. births to population growth.
  • A full 62 percent are under 35 years old vs. only 47 percent for the U.S. population as a whole.

“Marketers lose sight of the fact that the majority of Hispanics in the U.S. are born here,” says Amy Sousa, ethnographic analyst at The Hartman Group. “Marketers seem to be fixated on targeting the smallest segment of Hispanic consumers – those who are less educated, still learning English and not yet fully acculturated. This is not where the greatest opportunities lie.”

Reaching the Hispanic consumer is similar to marketing to Millennials. Why? Because the majority of them are, in fact, U.S. born and raised Millennials with all of the traits of that group. Both groups:

  • View dining as a social event – Hispanics with family first; Millennials with friends first
  • Enjoy exploring new cuisines and like to be adventurous in their dining
  • Value natural, fresh, quality food over packaged foods and enjoy sharing it
  • Are very digital in their communications and over-index on the use of smart phones for accessing the Internet (Hispanics = 60%; Millennials = 50%)

Recent immigrants naturally cherish the foods they ate growing up because it reminds them of home. To become familiar with new foods in their new country is a part of their acculturation. But second-generation kids are already home, and the food of their homeland includes pancakes, burgers, smoothies and chicken tenders with dipping sauce. They love their abuela’s chilaquiles, but a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit eaten at a quick-serve restaurant (QSR) with their family is just as much a part of their world.

Breakfast is an important part of the day for Hispanics, and it continues to be a great opportunity to build traffic. This is particularly true of QSRs, as they are favorite Hispanic places to dine with friends or family. Eighty-four percent of Hispanics’ restaurant visits are made to a QSR, most often for breakfast or snacks. In fact, 47 percent of Hispanic customers recently ate breakfast at a QSR. During the same time period, only 30 percent of all others did. Sixty-nine percent of Hispanic consumers say restaurants are an ideal place to spend time with family and when dining out the food itself is not as important as the family being together.

Hispanics’ traditional breakfasts differ by culture and country, but many start with some preparation of eggs with beans. Mexicans add spicy tomato sauce, tortillas, peppers, onion or chorizo; Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans add rice and tortillas; Guatemalans combine them with tortillas, fresh fruit, cheese and sautéed plantains; Dominicans partner them with mashed plantains and tortillas; and Colombians add sausage and arepas, small corn flour patties. Not only are all manner of similar breakfast items found on U.S. menus, but it’s a relatively small culinary step to sit down to a cheese omelet with peppers, onion and salsa at a diner or a bacon, egg and cheese muffin at a QSR.

Their youth and rising population make Hispanic-American consumers a must to attract. Reach out to them as the Millennials many of them are, but understand the importance of connecting with family over a meal. Why not fill tables of eight along with those tables for two?


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