Latina moms balance taste, health & convenience

Mar 26, 2012

Like a masterful tightrope walker, Hispanic mothers are always concerned with balance, reports Univision Insights Blog. As it is, they already straddle two cultures: they are experiencing and adopting American traditions while holding on to their Hispanic values, traditions and heritage.

According to the MDPA Magazine, one of the elements of their culture that they most want to retain — whether they’re immigrants or U.S. born—is their food and recipes. We know that this passion for food is developed at an early age and heavily influenced by their mothers. Because of that, cooking tends to play much more than a functional role in a Latina mother’s life; it reflects who she is as a mom. In a 2010 Yankelovich Banktract report, 81 percent of Hispanics 16+ agreed that they “put a lot of care and emotion into my cooking” vs. 65 percent of non-Hispanics.

We also know that this passion for food comes with an unwavering commitment to flavor. In focus group research, one mom told us, and many agreed, “I do not have the moral authority to make my kids eat healthy food that doesn’t taste good because I wouldn’t eat it myself.”

Like any other mother in the U.S., Hispanic moms strive for career advancement and work to provide a better financial future for their children. Because of this, Latinas have been left starved for time and more willing to make compromises that buck their Hispanic traditions. Latinas, who tend to cook from scratch more often than non-Hispanics, are increasingly embracing convenience foods like frozen vegetables, canned ingredients, and microwaveable side dishes as they pour themselves into their careers.

A recent syndicated Simmons study of Latinas 18+ shows that they are looking for solutions. Since 2006, the number of Latinas that answered “yes” to the statement “easy to prepare foods are my favorite” grew 16 percent vs. no growth for non-Hispanic women. Latina women also showed significantly more growth than non-Latinas across convenience products including hot snacks and frozen pizza, vegetables and waffles/pancakes over the same time period.

But the need for convenience does not mean that they are not concerned with nutrition. In fact, research shows that Latinas have become increasingly health-conscious consumers. The Latina mother also considers herself a food influencer with 31 percent saying “I’m usually the first to try new health foods” vs. just 16 percent of non-Hispanic moms.

For Latinas, the food options that balance taste, health and convenience are the ones they will most be drawn to.

Latinas are clearly sophisticated consumers who want the best for their children—a life filled with cherished family moments and good meals, a life of better opportunities and a healthy life. The marketers who understand the cultural influences Hispanic mothers face when providing for their families and develop products and marketing campaigns accordingly will be the ones to grow their sales.

Based in New York City, Liz Sanderson is senior director of Brand Solutions at Univision Communications Inc. Her team advises clients in the CPG and retail industries on how to develop and execute their strategies to drive sales with Hispanics.

Source: Univision Insights Blog, Latina Moms Balance Taste, Health & Convenience, January 2012.