Making the Right Investment

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Making the Right Investment

By Don Longo, Convenience Store News - 09/07/2009
Convenience retailers 7-Eleven, Stripes and Thorntons were among the more than 350 attendees at this year's Hispanic Retail 360 Summit, held in Las Vegas last month.

With more than $1 trillion in spending power up for grabs ($1.4 billion in 2010), retailers and marketers didn't let the current poor economy dissuade them from acknowledging the importance of Latino consumers to their future sales and profits.

The three-day conference was filled with tours to Latino-focused stores, research presentations, insights from the leading consultants in the multicultural markets and retailer case studies. Among the best presentations were two by retailers Best Buy and Ace Hardware Corp.

Best Buy is the largest electronics superstore chain in the nation, while Ace is a retailer-owned cooperative representing 4,400 stores operated by small independent entrepreneurs who provide the local option for home improvement products.

Teresa Iglesias-Solomon, vice president, Hispanic Initiative for Best Buy, began the keynote presentation by highlighting Best Buy's three-step process to connect with Latino customers and build relationships. "Invite Latinos into stores through efforts such as community events and involvement, and social networking; engage the customer with a passion to understand their needs; and fulfill their experience with services such as our Geek Squad technical team and bilingual signage and store associates," said Iglesias-Solomon.

Best Buy connects with Hispanic shoppers through sponsorships and events they are passionate about. Beyond connecting with consumers through their interests, Best Buy also ensures its store level staff can communicate and listen to its customers by hiring bilingual employees and offering language training. The company offers free Rosetta Stone software licenses to employees for learning relevant language skills.

Most c-store retailers, though, would relate better to Cindy Nunez-Hasman, who joined Ace Hardware from multicultural marketing pioneer Sears to champion the Hispanic segment for the 85-year-old, retailer-owned cooperative. "At Ace, we started at ground zero and the biggest struggle I've had has been educating my peers," said Nunez-Hasman. She then presented the results of Ace's recent Hispanic market program in Denver where sales in Hispanic designated stores saw a 7-percent sales lift while other non-Hispanic stores reported a 5-percent decline.

Both Best Buy and Ace understand that at a time when general market growth is stymied by a slow economy, low birth rates and an aging population, retailers need to focus their resources on the younger, growing multicultural consumer segments.

It is gratifying to us at Convenience Store News that we invested in launching this important conference five years ago and see that the paid attendance has grown every year. We also recently launched a new Hispanic Retail newsletter to keep readers abreast of the latest news and trends in this important market. Making the right investments in developing actionable content for its audience has been a key to the success of CSNews over the past 40 years. If you have any suggestions on other critical areas of coverage that will help your business be more successful, please don't hesitate to let us know.

To subscribe to our free Hispanic Retail 360 News & Trends newsletter, go to Next year's Hispanic Retail 360 Summit will be held in Scottsdale, Ariz., in August 2010.