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Inclusivity & Cultural Relevance Emphasized at MR360 Summit


SAN DIEGO — Inclusivity, cultural relevance and category growth opportunities were some of the key topics discussed at the recent 2016 Multicultural Retail 360 Summit (MR360).

Inclusivity was discussed on a number of fronts, including diversity hiring, marketing, and the nature of products and services. Cultural relevance conversations focused on how companies are creating or adjusting products to address the values of various ethnic groups. Presenters also talked about the multicultural growth potential of perimeter fresh items, cereal and other categories.

Across all topics, MR360 speakers emphasized the importance of constantly updating strategies in order to be germane to tomorrow’s consumers, many of whom will be multicultural.

Christian Martinez, head of U.S. multicultural for Facebook, cited Tower Records, Kodak and Blockbuster Video as examples of companies that disappeared when their traditional businesses were “severely disrupted” by market changes they failed to address.

“These were major organizations. Now, they’re obsolete. They were so focused on traditional competitors that they had blinders on and were unable to see startups coming,” he said. Martinez also pointed to 1955’s Fortune 500 List. Today, 85 percent of those companies are gone.

This could happen to companies that do not address multicultural consumers in ways they relate to, and one of those ways is mobile technology. Among Hispanics, 39.2 percent of all apparel purchases, for example, are conducted via mobile. Among the general market, the rate is 30.1 percent.

On a special concurrent session panel of convenience store retailers, Luisa Salazar, director of marketing and advertising for BP ampm/ARCO, shared that 73 percent of English-language website engagement at the California-based chain is through mobile. On its Spanish-language site, the rate is 98 percent.

Cultural relevance is particularly important when targeting Asians, too, who are largely first-generation. Driven by immigration, this group’s growth rate has surpassed that of Latinos. While still smaller in numbers, Asians are more affluent, with 49 percent having college degrees vs. 28 percent of the general population.

Annually, Asians spend $25.3 billion in supermarkets, said presenter Jeannie Yuen, president/CEO of APartnership. Sticking to their roots, 77 percent shop non-mainstream stores like H Mart, Seafood City, or independents. Los Angeles is home to 13,127 Asian supermarkets; New York has 9,075.

Successful promotions often revolve around Mother’s Day, the Moon Festival, and Chinese New Year. Yuen said Asians are particularly receptive to pallet displays, endcaps, hanging banners, shopping cart ads, and floor graphics.

The 2016 Multicultural Retail 360 Summit took place Aug. 24-26 at the Bayfront Hilton in San Diego. In addition to educational programming, the event included vendor exhibits and a ceremony to honor cultural research pioneer Isabel Valdes, the first inductee into MR360’s Multicultural Hall of Fame.

Now in its 12th year, the Multicultural Retail 360 Summit is hosted by Convenience Store News and Progressive Grocer, two leading business media brands in the EnsembleIQ portfolio.

For more coverage from the event, click here.

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