What's new in various product categories; monthly
Thoughts on the Hispanic Market
There's potential for the industry, if you
understand the culture.
by Barbara Hartnett (January 15, 2007)
(Note: In light of the upcoming CHA show seminars on the
Hispanic market, and as a follow-up on the market data on Hispanics
published in the 12/18/06 issue, CLN is reprinting an article
by Barbara Hartnett, who is the Executive Director of Friendship
House, a United Way agency in Peoria, IL. Friendship House conducts
a wide variety of programs for the area's Hispanic population –
English and GED classes, an Alcoholic Anonymous group, Boy and Girl
Scout groups, and other programs. With the help of industry vendors,
Friendship House has a Hispanic Warm Up America! chapter;
every Tuesday morning 10-20 Hispanic women visit Friendship House
and make afghans and blankets for people even poorer than they are.)
1. My knowledge is very, very narrow and limited to poor,
recent immigrants, only from Mexico. They are quite different in
some ways from immigrants from Cuba or Puerto Rico, so it's
dangerous to lump all these groups under the "Hispanic"
2. The HIA study [published in 2002) was conducted only in
large cities, only of people with published telephone numbers. Was
the interview done in Spanish?
3. Many speak no English and therefore, read no English. Many
have no telephones, although teens are slowly getting cell phones.
Computers are rare.
4. Often their reading ability in Spanish is low because they
dropped out of school in rural Mexico in 4th or 5th grade.
5. They have a strong family and religious orientation, so
crafts are often done in the context of celebrating baptisms, first
6. Often they have no cars, so they shop where they live and
pay what they have to for necessities; or they do have cars but
little money, so discount stores and thrift stores are their primary
7. There is a respect for the elderly, but a disdain for the
"old country" ways wherein traditional crafts often fall.
Among recent Mexican immigrants, the generational division is
greater in many ways than what we are used to, because the kids get
"Americanized" very quickly. But if craft retailers can
translate teen trends into crafts that can be made cheaper than
readymades, there may be a market for the younger crowd -- i.e.
friendship bracelets, not embroidered shawls. The skills grandmother
can teach must be translated into new, hip products.
8. Among Mexicans especially, compared to other Hispanic
groups, there is less disposable income because they send billions
of dollars back to family in Mexico.
9. An important key for craft retailers, I think, is to focus
on the escapism and social aspects of crafting for Mexican women.
This is still a strongly sexist culture -- most women don't work
outside the home, few of them drive, and often they have large
families. In many places, the work of the men is seasonal and the
women are alone for long periods of time. The older children are in
school and their parents are in Mexico. A knitting/crocheting group
is a safe, socially acceptable outlet for them to get together, out
of the house, with their husbands' permission.
(Note: CHA Seminars include "The Essential Hispanic
Market Overview" (S119), Sun., 3-4:15 pm for retailers,
manufacturers, and designers ... "Capturing Your Share of the
Hispanic Craft Market" (S127), Mon., 11:00 am-12:15 pm for
retailers ... "In-Culture Design: How to Optimize Your
Creativity for the Hispanic Retail Market'' (S133), Tues.,
10:00-11:15 am for designers. Tickets are $25 for CHA members, $50
for non-members. Visit www.chashow.org.
Barbara is also the life-long non-crafter who became hooked on
jewelry-making. Since her first class less than two years ago,
Barbara has sold approximately $10,000 worth of her creations. To
read a first-hand account of her adventures in professional
crafting, click on "An Eyewitness Report on the Jewelry
Phenomenon," Parts I, II, and III, in the right-hand column.)