The New Papà

Hispanic Men are no longer the ‘unicorn’
of the grocery-shopping world.

A Hub White Paper by Richard Velez of MASS

The concepts of marianismo and machismo traditionally have held sway in Hispanic female and male roles relative to household shopping. Marianismo is best summarized as an intense sense of self-sacrifice, of Hispanic women providing total, selfless dedication to the wellbeing of their family. Machismo likewise encompassed many societal facets for the male, but in a household context it connoted his self-limited, outside-the-household role as provider.

The Hispanic woman has always been the CEO of her household, the ‘Chief Life Decision Maker and Caretaker.’ However, when we take into consideration the Hispanic market sweet-spot of not that many years ago — that target who was more foreign-born, more Spanish-dependent and less acculturated — we had a very different household dynamic from that of today.

In the past, the Hispanic mom typically spent almost no time on herself. Her orchestration of the household meant that she took on all or most household duties as her own, including ownership of the shopping task; she was not only the shopper, but also the decision-maker for brands and products.

In her desire to delight and provide the best for her family, it’s well documented that her children and spouse could heavily influence her choices. Beyond the pre-store influence they had on her at home, she had the habit of shopping with them, which also made them key influencers at-store. But the fact remained that she was the gatekeeper, the shopper of household goods for her family.

Fast-forward a few short years to the present. The Hispanic family sweet-spot has become much more Millennial, bicultural, and bilingual. Our contemporary Hispanic mom has a new household role — what we might call the ‘200% Woman.’ She is doubling up on commitments to culture, family and, in a most striking departure, to herself. She now relishes living in two cultures and languages, giving up neither.

She still devotes all of herself, and she’s still driven to perform her utmost in providing the absolute best care for her family. However, she now also embraces a contemporary mindset. She demands being her own person, and taking time for herself — even though she is also more likely to be advancing a career than her mom was.

While she may be juggling a career and household with the same dedication her mom had, she will now demand and carve out time and space for herself to enjoy her hour at the gym, or lunch with friends — without sacrificing results for her family.

Net, the expanded role of living in two cultures, and being fully dedicated to both household and self, has increased her challenges. Fortunately, the man’s role has changed as well. Our own observations, backed by syndicated trend observers and researchers, confirm that work and family balance are now in for the contemporary Hispanic male.

The Emerging Hispanic Dad

Consider this quote from a Hispanic dad about his changed perspective:

“I’m more Americanized and in this culture. I need to help her, looking after the kids, picking up the laundry. I’ve got a different view.” (source: Iconoculture)

The Hispanic dad’s stoic stance as breadwinner has softened and his paternal role has evolved. He now works hard both at his job and at home, and he’s handling more household duties than before. He’s stepped up fully in his share of the daily household routine. As such, he has become more of an influencer to his wife for the home shopping list as he finds himself to be the consumer for many products he didn’t consume in the past!

As part of his increased household involvement, he’s also a household shopper now, even if he is still not the household shopper. To quote a Hispanic dad from our own research: “She does the big trips, and I do a lot of the small (fill-in) trips … on the way home from work. These seem more frequent, so sometimes it feels like I’m doing half of the shopping.”

A recent Mintel report states that 69 percent of Hispanic males have purchased food products over the last 12 months (compared to 83 percent of non-Hispanic whites).

Moreover, Hispanic males prefer to shop for food items in the grocery channel, followed closely by mass merchandisers. For non-food household items, the incidence of Hispanic male shopping is lower — 43 percent versus 51 percent non-Hispanic whites — with mass merchandise and grocery almost tied as the most preferred shopping channel.

Our own observations, cross-referenced with newly syndicated data from various sources, also indicate the following:

  • Hispanic men share several traits with Hispanic women as primary household shoppers: They’re highly digital; they shop at a large variety of retailers; and they’re highly influenced by family members and friends. They seek value and are motivated by samples, coupons, and other offers. They enjoy their time spent shopping and exploring the store.
  • For household goods, Hispanic men indicate a low incidence of product trial generated via marketing messages. This attests to the fact that they are not yet marketing targets in these categories.
  • Syndicated data reveals that many Hispanic males feel stereotyped when they are spoken to. This reveals a lack of proper insight, likely including a lack of understanding of the shopper/household evolution as outlined above.
  • Hispanic moms are still the primary shoppers. Hispanic men who claim the most influence over household purchases are in the minority, and also a lower percentage than non-Hispanic whites.

Aiming At Deeper Insights

Driving deeper shopper insights for the Hispanic male can be a chicken-and-egg paradox, at least until packaged-goods brands make consistent efforts towards including Hispanic male shoppers in their planning.

Many questions are yet to be answered. For example, even though contemporary Hispanic men are doing much more household shopping than before, all of the marketing continues to address the women. It seems clear that marketing to dads will drive or protect business during his trips, but will these efforts eventually create a household shopper tipping point? Will mom eventually shop dad’s list? Or will the cultural household dynamic continue to keep mom in the forefront?

Directionally, we can already see an ultra-high involvement household category for Hispanic men: personal grooming products. A proprietary study by Multicultural Insights, along with a landmark study by Univision, indicate that Hispanic men are overwhelmingly the decision-makers and shoppers for these emotionally charged, performance-sensitive purchases. (Note that this category does market to men.)

The recent Hispanic male behavior of equal sharing of household duties indicates they are now consumers of many products with which they had little engagement before. This opens up an interesting opportunity for packaged-good companies to market more directly to this target segment now that men are also stakeholders in the use of these products.

Given that marketing directly to men has paid off in the personal grooming category, it might be time to hypothesize that because of their increasing involvement with packaged-goods products, defining men as a viable target might meet with similarly positive results.

•  •  •

Changing demographics and household dynamics reveal that the Hispanic male is an up-and-coming shopper in many household categories, and a force to be reckoned with in others.

Although some information is already known about Hispanic men as shoppers, deeper, more involved insights and discoveries are yet to be had as he works his way through the path-to-purchase. Much more remains to be tested and learned about his response to various marketing stimuli, most of which has yet to be directed at him in the role of household shopper.

After dad changes enough diapers, fixes enough meals or cleans enough windows, will he move beyond mere influencer and make the call? Or will we address him as a stakeholder influencer and shared-duty shopper? We’re running the tests where possible. Stay tuned!

( is director, strategic services of MASS, based in Miami, where he develops strategies to reach Hispanics where they work, live, play, and shop.

PDF link