How to Get Your Store Ready for Hispanic Heritage Month in the Midst of COVID-19

National Hispanic Heritage Month begins in a few weeks, but this year’s celebrations will have to adapt to a new reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hispanic stores, which traditionally schedule promotions and special events throughout the month, will have to reinvent their marketing strategy to adapt to the new circumstances.

Therefore, this is a good opportunity to review what I shared and recommended to readers in my column last year for maximizing store communication and promotional efforts to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month 2019.  

A review of my recommendations for engaging with shoppers for awareness, trial and repeat during a month-long celebration, found the communication and promotional elements which, in a “normal” world, would lead to an impactful event to increase store sales. 

However, those recommendations were made before the COVID-19  turned our world upside down.  As a result, online shopping increased as a result of new users, increased trip count and higher basket ring versus prior year; shopper engagement decreased; impulse sales driven by sampling and displays decreased; and store trips, basket size and time spent in-store per trip also decreased.   

There’s much to be learned from this experience to build a case study for crisis preparedness for the future. Epidemiologists predict that it is not a matter “if” a pandemic will occur again, but “when” it will occur. That case study will help prepare the supply chain to reduce an upset in the flow of goods which resulted in both food abundance and food insecurity. 

With traditional promotional strategies upended by the pandemic, how might retailers pivot to find alternative ways to reach their shoppers to maintain and grow sales?

Related Article: What Does the Future Hold for the Hispanic Retail After Covid-19?

Let’s use the same 3-step approach I shared in last year’s column: Awareness, trial, and repeat, but with a virtual twist.

Before (Awareness) – Use the time leading up to the start of the National Hispanic Heritage month on September 15, to communicate to shoppers about the upcoming celebration. Use your social media and website to talk about the history behind the creation of this recognition.  

Social media posts could also be used to build anticipation with shoppers about events they can create at home to celebrate the major celebrations and holidays. Posts could recommend music, food and beverages that could accompany an at-home celebration with family. 

Why not use social media to provide video cooking demonstrations of recipes which celebrate Hispanic foods? With more meals being eaten at home than pre-pandemic, perhaps the dinner recipe rotation is getting a little tired. Social media could focus on regularly scheduled cooking shows, videos, recipes, and celebration ideas.  

Maybe consider having department managers host Zoom calls for shoppers? Could a cooking class be held via Zoom? Provide coupons for those who attend providing a link to trial and repeat purchases of products highlighted in the Zoom call. Embrace the technology available and create new avenues of awareness for your shoppers.

During (Trial) – Trial of new foods is key to increasing impulse purchases with the intent of creating repeat consumers. But with COVID-19 restrictions not allowing for food sampling in-store, the trial of new products must occur in other ways. 

My local grocer is including product samples along with my online grocery order pickup. This new way of reaching shoppers with product samples delivered directly through online shopping could be expanded with the inclusion of recipes and event celebration ideas for National Hispanic Heritage Month. 

My family has been using online grocery since the middle of March when the concern for COVID-19 became a real threat. Not one of my online orders during that time has included recipes, or event and party planning ideas and other promotional ideas which could be tied to an event. What a missed opportunity for increasing sales.   

How about creating a contest for shoppers to provide the party theme menu for this special celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month? That idea could be extended to contests for a recipe and/or menu of the week or holiday recipe or party plan. Winning recipes and ideas could be shared through social media and flyers delivered to shoppers through your online ordering platform or along with shoppers’ orders which they pick up or have delivered.

After (Repeat) – The key to repeat, is to be consistent with celebrating events or holidays. Train your shoppers to expect recipes, videos, coupons, and other ideas in advance of each event or holiday.   

Today’s shoppers are looking for solutions and providing exciting meal and celebration ideas is not only a helpful solution to shoppers but one which brings creativity into the activity of meal planning which has become a bit mundane for many of us during these long months of stay-at-home pandemic orders. 

Always remember to engage your shoppers to help create your events during National Hispanic Heritage Month. It will build loyalty to your store and they will reward you with the size of their shopping basket.

We may all have felt a bit overwhelmed over the past several months, but now is not the time to make excuses why events can’t be celebrated as they were in the past; now is the time to find a new way to be creative and perhaps achieve even greater results than ever before.