Hungry Hispanics: How To Get, Keep Them

El Pollo Loco

Hispanics are one of the largest and fastest growing groups in the U.S. so an increasingly important customer base for restaurant operators.

In fact, this demographic group makes some 9.8 billion restaurant visits each year and constitutes 25 percent of all restaurant traffic, according to The NPD Group. Foodservice operators who aren’t ready to serve this segment are already behind the trend.

To be successful attracting and creating loyalty among these consumers it’s important to understand them:

  1. Hispanics have very specific tastes that can help shape restaurant operations, according to Technomic, a food industry and research firm.When looking for Hispanic cuisine they want it to be authentic, not Americanized. Roughly three out of five Hispanics indicate that it is important that Hispanic foods taste like a Hispanic prepared it. First and second generation Hispanic consumers place a greater importance on authenticity than third generation Hispanic consumers, who are less likely to have grown up with the cuisine.
  2. Having Hispanic food items alone will not encourage Hispanics to visit a restaurant. In fact, when Hispanics visit American restaurant concepts, they don’t expect to see Hispanic menu items, according to Sara Monnette, Technomic’s director of food research.  
  3. Quality and freshness are the two most important food attributes for Hispanic diners.
  4. Healthfulness is also important. Two-thirds of Hispanics say the availability of healthy options is important at full-service restaurants. And attributes such as ‘local’ and ‘organic’ resonate more strongly than ‘premium’ and ‘natural,’ according to a recent NPD survey.
  5. Hispanic families are larger so children are often in their restaurant parties. Consequently, Hispanics look for places they feel comfortable bringing their children. Music goes a long way to creating ambiance among Hispanics, and where the format permits, having the soccer game, the soaps or children’s programming on will make your restaurant feel welcoming.
  6. Differences in restaurant usage between English-speaking and Spanish-speaking Hispanics also exist with the latter much more likely to seek morning meals and snacks at restaurants than the former. Make sure you are serving dishes that align with these dayparts and staff accordingly during these hours.
  7. The Pew Research Center reports that 40 percent of Hispanics are most comfortable speaking Spanish. And NPD indicates that Hispanics are mostly dissatisfied withservice problems in restaurants such as order accuracy and how employees respond to problems. Loyalty can become a real problem if Hispanic customers don’t receive the food they want because of wrong orders and communication problems. Having bilingual employees can help.

Keeping Hispanics as customers is vital since this demographic reports a high level of brand loyalty. Hispanic customerslike to visit familiar restaurants and tend to patronize the same few concepts when they go out to eat.

By Terry J. Soto, author of ‘Marketing to Hispanics: A Strategic Approach to Assessing and Planning Your Initiative,’ and president and CEO of About Marketing Solutions, Inc. a consulting company providing transformative business readiness and strategy consulting for market success. Contact Terry at 818-842-9688 or by email at


News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.


As a Hispanic, I feel this article is pretty racist.So Hispanics like freshness and quality. Really? Doesn't everyone?  If the article was about Black people and said things like "Black people love their chicken and ribs. Have plenty on hand. Also, have BET and basketball games on as much as possible. They also tend to be loud and prone to violence, so make sure you have metal detectors!", how would that be acceptable? 

e because they aren't dominant traits for us anymore. We tend to, depending on the environment, want to put our "americanized" face forward so as to blend in and not to be labeled _______. You fill in the blank.But I believe it is by highlighting these cultural nuances - some similarities and some differences - that we enable a greater competency among corporate america to respond in the best possible manner - in a way that makes "all" of us feel welcomed while at the same time growing their businesses through our well-earned patronage.

I fully agree with you on every point.  For the past 12 years I have owned and managed a Cuban Quick Service in South Miami, Florida near the University of Miami. Our menu is authentic fresh Cuban with salads and wraps for the health conscious.  Our customer base is primarily Cuban, South American and American, local and students.  We are a hole in the wall but enjoy a tremendous following of repeat business thanks to my having always addressed your 7 points.  I invite you to visit if your are ever in our area.

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