By Barbara Thau
The decade’s fastest growing demographic group is catching the attention of the nation’s biggest retailers.
Retailers such as Macy’s, Kohl’s and J.C. Penney are churning out home collections from Latin celebrities and devising an array of marketing programs to court favor with Hispanic shoppers.
Merchants are stepping up efforts to target this diverse ethnic demographic in a bid to capture their share of this hefty—and growing—consumer group, they said.
“J.C. Penney has and continues to invest in the Hispanic community and views this segment as an important asset to its overall market share,” Olivia Vela, director of multicultural marketing at J.C. Penney, told HFN.
Julie Gardner, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Kohl’s, agreed.
“Given the size and purchasing power of this demographic group, it is important for us to appeal to and resonate with the Hispanic market,” she said.
Macy’s also has been coming up with new ways to appeal to Hispanic shoppers.
“It’s no secret that the Hispanic market certainly continues to grow in volume and spending power, but this customer has been on our radar for a long time,” Tim Adams, chief executive officer of Macy’s Home Store, told HFN. Adams will become chief private brand officer of Macy’s in May. “She shops with us now, and we just need to continue to evolve how we engage and serve her.”
Macy’s pursuit of Latin shoppers is one outgrowth of its My Macy’s Campaign, a new organization structure designed to better tailor the retailer’s assortments to the needs of local markets.
The idea now is to use My Macy’s to fine-tune its merchandising programs for Hispanic shoppers, Adams said.
My Macy’s develops merchandise brands, product specifications—from colors to fabric weights—even store space allocations that reflect the needs and preferences of local tastes, Adams said.
And with its Hispanic-geared home mix, “You are seeing this come to life in merchandise like Imusa [the Hispanic kitchenware brand] and Vida by Eva Mendes.”
Last fall, Macy’s rolled out the home textiles collection from Mendes, who has starred in movies such as “Training Day” and “Hitch.” Vida is what Mendes describes as an easy luxury collection with fabrics and textiles that resonate with her aesthetic. Lines in the collection include Rosa, in luxury gold tones and ornate embroidery.
“The collection really appeals to the masses, but as a woman of Cuban-American descent, Ms. Mendes certainly brings a Latin perspective to her design style,” Adams said. “The patterns are dramatic, colorful and skillfully embellished; it’s sophisticated luxury at an affordable price,” he said, adding that the line is doing well so far.
My Macy’s is also helping the retailer hone its marketing efforts, which range from Hispanic-media marketing to cause-driven efforts.
The retailer’s Believe holiday campaign included a Spanish-language television spot with iconic musician Carlos Santana, Adams said.
Macy’s overall cause-marketing efforts include its Go Red For Women Multicultural Fund, which is devoted to building awareness of heart disease among Hispanic and African-American women. Macy’s also helped to launch the Reading Is Fundamental multicultural literacy campaign, which is designed to enhance literacy resources for underserved children.
J.C. Penney is committed to positioning itself as “the preferred department store for Hispanics,” Vela said. The retailer reaches out to Hispanic consumers via a culturally relevant, 360-degree communications approach that includes television, print, radio and online advertising; grass-roots promotions; and public relations initiatives, she said.
J.C. Penney has been aggressive about forging tailored marketing initiatives with Hispanic media heavyweights Telemundo and Univision to market its exclusive home brands, such as American Living, the line designed by Ralph Lauren; the Chris Madden Collection; Studio; and Linden Street.
For one, J.C. Penney furnished the house featured on “Nuestra Belleza Latina,” a beauty contest/reality show. And as part of J.C. Penney’s holiday campaign, Hispanic celebrities showcased affordable gifts from the retailer.
“The partnership also included an interactive micro site and online sweepstakes, and allowed for product integration within Univision shows such as “Cristina Sonando Contigo” [“Cristina’s Dreaming With You”] and “Despierta America” [“Wake Up America”], as well as a star-studded J.C. Penney-sponsored television special,” Vela said.
Kohl’s has beefed up its presence in Hispanic markets in Miami, where it opened six new stores last fall, Gardner said. It’s also spreading its wings on the West Coast in regions with a heavy Latin population, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, where it acquired former Meryvns’ locations that will be reopened as Kohl’s in the next few months.
In the home department, Kohl’s has fashioned the exclusive Casa Cristina program from Hispanic talk show host Cristina Saralegui, and a line from celebrity Daisy Fuentes, to woo Hispanic shoppers.
Kohl’s is pleased with the performance of the Casa Cristina line, particularly in Hispanic markets, Gardner said.
Saralegui “is recognized as one of the most influential role models for today’s Hispanic woman,” Gardner said.
The line is inspired by the decor of Saralegui’s Miami home and the artistry and memories of her Cuban childhood. Although the brand is designed to have universal appeal, “Cristina’s direction ensures that Casa Cristina meets the objective of appealing to the Hispanic audience,” Gardner said.
“Kohl’s continues to expand our efforts in serving the Hispanic shopper.”