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The Hispanic population in the United States is rapidly growing, numbering 57 million or 18 percent of population, with the majority of Hispanic adults saying they are Catholic (55 percent) and 16 percent saying they are evangelicals.
“Hispanic evangelicals have the same core values as the conservative market in the U.S.—very strong with family values, good work ethics, strong faith in God and His Word,” says Alfonso Guevara, sales director at Editorial CLC.
To successfully sell to this community, Christian storeowners should avoid lumping all Hispanics under one umbrella. As with any other customer, retailers need to study what products they are buying.
“For example, in Puerto Rico, hardcover Bibles sell well while Hispanics in the States will buy bonded leather,” Guevara says.
Steps for Success
How can retailers learn more about the Hispanic Christian community near their stores? “The best way is to reach out to the local Hispanic churches by contacting their pastors,” Guevara says. “Find out which Hispanic group is predominant in your area—Mexican? Salvadoran? Cuban? Colombian?”
Next, hire a bilingual employee and have them reach out to these pastors. Developing relationships is as important to this community as it is with any customer group.
“Once you have made a connection, organize a time when the pastors can come have coffee and pastries and to get a special discount or other incentives,” Guevara says. “If possible, invite a respected Hispanic pastor or leader to speak that day or even invite a worship leader to share in music in Spanish.”
Place signage that says Hablamos Español (“We Speak Spanish”) in prominent locations inside and outside of the store. “Communicate on your website and Facebook page—in Spanish—that you can order anything Hispanic customers might need,” he says.
Other ways a store can develop an environment welcoming to Hispanics is to designate an area within your store for Spanish-language resources, especially Bibles, and promote it with clearly marked signs in highly trafficked areas. As for what product to stock, it’s important to understand the distinction between Hispanic Catholics and Hispanic evangelicals.
“Catholics within the Hispanic community are very different than evangelical and Pentecostal believers. Most Hispanic evangelicals were born and raised Catholic, and when they became evangelicals, they renounced their Catholic faith and embraced Protestantism and Pentecostalism,” Guevara explains. “With that in mind—and understanding the difference—the storeowner should not display both faith products together. If you must, do it separately within the store for better results. As a rule, Hispanic evangelicals will not shop at a bookstore where there is a space dedicated to Catholic products.”
Time to Celebrate
While the U.S. government instituted National Hispanic Heritage Month to run from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the Latino community doesn’t emphasize it as much as you might think.
“The marketing approach for a retail store to reach out to the Hispanic community should be different than just limiting it to that month,” Guevara advises, noting that stores should concentrate on other seasonal celebrations:
- Mother’s Day. “This is the Super Bowl of any retail store to cater to Hispanics because of the strong cultural and family meaning throughout the various Hispanic cultures from Latin America,” he says. “Father’s Day is celebrated, but it is low key compared to Mother’s Day.”
- Three Kings Day. Celebrated in many Latin American countries and Spain, Three Kings Day falls on Jan. 6. “Right after the Christmas madness can bring additional sales,” Guevara says. “Many Hispanics celebrate this tradition, which is like Christmas Day of exchanging gifts. During the Christmas season, you might want to announce in your store, on the internet, and on Facebook that you will be offering specials for Dia de los Reyes Magos.
- Easter. Holy Week (Semana Santa) is a big occasion for the Hispanic market as well, especially for church supplies (communion items, etc.) and evangelistic outreach (mass-market Bibles).