Hispanic food is having a moment. From pupusas to gansitos, foods that have been traditionally geared towards Latino consumers have gained acceptance across a broader audience. Chief among them are tacos, of course, which have enjoyed a long tenure on the menu of American cuisine, inspiring Taco Tuesdays and a Netflix documentary series, “Taco Chronicles,” to say the least.
But it’s not just the savory flavors of spicy beans, roasted chilies, and crunchy tortillas appealing to the appetites of U.S. consumers. Hispanic health and beauty products have risen from relative obscurity and burst into the mainstream.
Popular brands like Tres Flores and Sal de Picot, staples in Latino cabinets across the U.S. for years with little fanfare, have recently been making appearances in publications like New York magazine and Allure. Slowly, we’re starting to see these products emerge in unconventional places with unexpected results without the help of expensive digital marketing campaigns.
We’ve seen this play out in real time with one of our clients, DLC Laboratories. The Los Angeles-based owner of the De La Cruz brand has been targeting the Latino market in the U.S. since 1963.
This case study is an excellent example of a historically Hispanic health and beauty product finding a loyal following outside of the Hispanic consumer base. Mentions of its product, De La Cruz® Sulfur Ointment (an OTC medicine that clears and helps prevent acne pimples and blackheads) went viral last year after appearing in a Reddit review extolling its acne-fighting powers.
Over 1,200 comments later, the post went on to get picked up by Teen Vogue, Revelist, Marie Claire, and Remezcla. In addition, it even crossed the pond and appeared on European websites like Hello magazine (U.K.), RSVP Live (Ireland), and The Sun (U.K.).
What is impressive about this is that DLC Laboratories spends zero dollars on digital marketing and has traditionally marketed its product to a Latino audience, not the general market.
So how does this happen? And more importantly, how can your brand do the same?
To sum it up in one word: authenticity. The sulfur ointment packaging hasn’t changed much since its introduction 19 years ago and continues to have a bilingual label despite growing beyond the company's traditionally Latino consumer. The formula, which contains only two ingredients and is free of preservatives, fragrances and colors is the same as when the product was launched. The price has not changed since 2011.
Authenticity is a powerful driver of consumer behavior, as discussed in a “Brand Authenticity Report” released earlier this year.
While the report focuses mainly on food and beverages, many of the findings apply to the health and beauty space. For example, when asked “what does the word ‘authentic’ mean to you as it relates to a brand of food or beverages?” for both U.S. Hispanics and the general population, authenticity was most closely linked to “real ingredients.”
Sulfur, a natural element praised for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, is the main ingredient in De La Cruz® Sulfur Ointment. Concerned about the potentially harmful effects of beauty products with long ingredient lists, consumers are calling for transparency and oversight, similar to the trend we saw arise in the food industry almost a decade ago.
The future is Hispanic -- in more ways than one. The U.S. is on track to becoming the largest Spanish-speaking nation by 2050, bringing with it the cultural influences that shape this growing demographic. Hispanic health and beauty brands have a tremendous opportunity to share these traditions with a broader audience in search of more authentic experiences.
While the DLC Laboratories story involved some good luck, the consumer demand for “real ingredients” and accessible pricing in health and beauty persists. Brands that answer the call position themselves to attract new markets while cultivating the old.
This blog post was originally published on Engage: Hispanics