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Foods appeal to 2 palates

Advertising Age: Multicultural Marketing
by Stephanie Thompson
(November 19, 2001)

'The flavor is hypnotic': M&M's taps into Hispanic tastes with a caramel variety

Cristina Benitez, president of Chicago-based agency Lazos Latinos calls the phenomenon Hispanization -or the Ricky Martin effect.

The fast growing Hispanic population is influencing overall culture, and in the U.S. a big part of that culture is food. While food marketers may want to reach out specifically to the growing ethnic group with products or positioning that reflects their tastes, they're still concerned that they appeal to the majority of consumers.

"Companies are using Hispanic [references] not only to appeal to Hispanics but also to the general market consumers; it's a cool, hip thing to be these days." Ms. Benitez says.

When Masterfoods USA's M&M/Mars division started testing in August a Dulce de Leche caramel variety of M&M's, the unit's biggest brand was mindful that the flavor had universal appeal, says Roberto Garcia, ethnic marketing manager at M&M /Mars.

"The influences of the Latin American culture on the rest of the population is immense, and it's how we're going to grow our business," Mr. Garcia says however, we don't want to sell a product that appeals to only 35 million (the current Hispanic population) when if we appeal to the overall population of 280 million the potential of the product is even bigger."

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