Bienvenida the Latino Population

As the Latino population expands, bars should think about how to capture this demographic

There are some big drinkers out there that many bars and nightclubs are missing from their customer base, but it’s getting harder to ignore them. We’re talking about the Hispanic population.

This group is 53 million strong, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. These consumers drink and spend more on alcohol beverages than the general population, says market research company Technomic, Inc., and Hispanics tend to consume more beverages per drinking occasion.

Every bar or nightclub should be actively engaging with these consumers because as their ranks swell, they’ll become a more significant part of every customer base. Right now, Latinos constitute 17% of the U.S. population but that figure is expected to reach 31% by 2060, outpacing any other ethnic group.

So, the question remains how do you attract Latinos to your establishment?

The Drinks

Beer is the go-to drink of Hispanic customers, according to the Special Trends in Adult Beverage Report: Hispanic Consumer Insights, released late last year by Technomic.

In fact, 67% of Hispanics drink beer in an on-premise establishment, vs. 53% of the general population, says senior director Donna Hood Crecca.

“They over-index on all types of beer compared with the general population except for craft beer, which is on par with the general population,” she adds. “So they drink domestic beer, light beer, and imports and drinks like Mike’s Hard Lemonade.”

In terms of the imported beers they like, overwhelmingly—and not surprisingly since almost two-thirds of Hispanics in the U.S. are from Mexico—Hispanics opt for Mexican beers.

But beer’s not the only thing Hispanic consumers drink when they’re out in bars and clubs. They also indulge in tequila, as we’d expect, but that’s their second favorite liquor, after vodka, and before rum, in line with the general population, Hood Crecca points out. But for shots, she says, tequila is the No. 1 choice (followed by vodka, then rum). And for all of these drinks, she adds, Hispanics are looking for premium brands.

Hispanics are also becoming more interested in wine, says Technomic. In general, males (usually affluent ones) are opting for red, and females for white, and they tend to drink it more frequently at home than when they’re out, which means there’s an opportunity for bars and clubs.

Hispanics are also open to new drinks—almost half of those surveyed by Technomic said they’d tried a new drink in the past month, compared 31% of the general population—and that beverage was most likely a mixed drink or a cocktail. “The more acculturated they are, the more likely they are to try a new drink,” Hood Crecca says.

Craft beer may not be a big seller in the Hispanic market, but it could be soon, says Jonathan Parada, one of the three owners of Pacific Plate Brewing in Los Angeles. About half of his customers of are of Latin American descent, and this market is ready for craft beers, he says.

“Craft beer among Hispanics will grow because, just like the current market, people love good beer. Once introduced to good beer that has elements of their culture, we believe it'll be something they want to talk about. Sharing with others will lead to growth in that industry.”


Hispanics want to feel comfortable in your bar.

“You need to go out of your way to make them feel welcome,” says Roberto Siewczynski, executive vice president of Catapult Vista, the Hispanic marketing arm of Catapult agency, Westport, Conn.

“It’s not about greeting them with your standard smile but about genuinely welcoming them. If Hispanics don’t feel welcome, they’ll not come back and they’ll not tell anyone about you—and word of mouth is very important with this demographic.”

Being treated in a way that makes them feel at home in a country where they’re a minority, is essential, he explains.

“Hispanics tend to touch each other more; they are very warm, perhaps more intimate. It’s that intimacy and feeling you need to weave into the service platform.”

Hispanics spend more time at home socializing with their friends and family, Siewczynski says, and when they do go out, they typically visit bars and nightclubs as a large group, so it’s important that venues have space for them.

Music’s also of great importance in making Hispanic customers feel welcome in your bar or nightclub. “Look into music that’s popular in other countries,” says Linda González president of Viva Partnership, Miami, and chair-elect of AHAA: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing. “You’re not going to kill your American clientele—your core—by playing Latin music,” she says, “since anything Hispanic is pretty cool right now.’

A Promotional Edge

Hispanics love promotions. Combine them with beer, another of their favorite things, and bars and nightclubs are onto a winner.

Downey Brewing Co. in Downey, Calif., runs regular promotions from beer distributors and caters predominantly to Latino customers, thanks to that.

“It’s about the camaraderie this brings,” says Carlos Viramontes, president of Viramontes Marketing Communications in Downey, Calif. “The beer distributors are constantly providing support and the bars can take advantage of that.”

“It’s to do with creating a fun environment and it drives sampling and that’s how they make themselves cool,” he says. “Having these promos puts them on the cutting edge.”

Add to that the fact that freebies are extremely popular with lower-income Hispanics, he adds, and there’s no downside.

“Promotions help Hispanics engage with a brand,” says González. “They don’t even mind about winning when there are contests as part of the promotion; it’s about the fun of being in the bar. “

A side benefit of these promotions is that Hispanics are strong users of social media, and whether they’re a winner or not, they’re likely to post the result online, she says, “and then your Hispanic customers are doing your marketing for you.”

Marketing Media

Since Hispanics over-index on both social media and mobile use, savvy bars and nightclubs will meet them where they are.

It’s a great idea to find some influencers in your community and have them be ambassadors of your brand—your bar or club—via social media, says Siewczynski. These ambassadors might be bartenders or DJs—anyone who the locals in the know look up to. And if those ambassadors are bilingual, it can be even more effective, he says.

“You have to do social media if you’re going to hit this group,” says González. “Any promotional thing you do has to be 360 as far as engagement tactics are concerned and involve a lot of social media. Hispanics are so forward thinking in terms of social media and if a new [platform] comes out they’re likely to jump on in it—so make sure you know what’s hot.”

When marketing, it’s also important to know Hispanics listen to more radio than the general population, and radio personalities are often revered by this demographic, Viramontes says, so can be a terrific ambassadors for your bar or nightclub.