of the Latinos are here in the States. It’s
more than just rum and tequila.”
Cultural influences from one’s home-
land (or one’s parents’ homeland) can af-
fect what’s popular, and how it’s consumed.
“Johnnie Walker Black has a tremendous
amount of success in the Caribbean mar-
ket, and that translates here, particularly
for Dominicans,” says Leslie Velasquez of
Empire Merchants, a large New York dis-
tributor. “Buchanan Whisky is very popu-
lar among Colombians and Mexicans. Part
of the brand strategy for Diageo, which has
a tremendous portfolio internationally, is
marketing to different Latino segments
based on historical success in other coun-
tries,” adds Velasquez.
Nicole Rolet, marketer for her family’s
wine label Chêne Bleu, agrees that cultural
heritage can influence drinking habits. She
notes that breaking into the Miami market
with her signature Southern Rhône rosés
is a challenge. “It’s a red wine culture there,
despite the heat,” says Rolet. “Because of
the Cuban and Hispanic population, red
wines of Spain are very prevalent.”
by the Bottle
Some trends—notably bottle service and
weekend festivity—and more behavioral
than product-based. “A lot of on-premise
business in the multi-culti world is really
driven by bottle service, particularly for spe-
cial occasions,” says Marcelo Alcoba, multi-
culti division manager at Empire Merchants.
“It’s the feeling that ‘Hey, I’m at a lounge or
club, and I have two or three bottles on the
table. I’ve made it. Look at me.’”
At The Flavor Lounge, a small dancing,
drinking and hookah spot in Richmond
Hill—an economically challenged Queens,
NY, neighborhood—Fridays bring Latin
Night, with salsa and merengue blended
into the nightly hip-hop. Despite the bar’s
modest trappings, $100 bottle specials are
offered for those who arrive before mid-
night. The trend is even more prevalent at
high-end nightclubs in Manhattan and Las
Vegas. Francesco Lafranconi of Southern
Wine and Spirits Nevada notes: “The table
service in clubs is very inflated. It’s easy to
spend a few thousand for bottles of vodka
or tequila.”
Social nightlife impacts when, what and
how much Latinos and African-Americans
drink, according to Alcoba. “The weekend
is when people are going out, or hanging
out, and they may want to drink something
a little higher-end,” he says. “During the
week, it might be Smirnoff Coconut, but
on the weekends, Cîroc Coconut.”
Emma Martinez Flores, a first-genera-
tion Mexican-American in Nampa, Idaho
(a suburb of Boise with a large Latino
population), agrees. “Mexicans might have
a beer during the week, when they’re done
working,” she says. “But going out on the
weekends to dance and eat and drink—
that’s the big thing.” Despite the large La-
tino population throughout metro Boise’s
Treasure Valley (many employed in agricul-
ture and industry), few social spots directly
target Latinos, but clubs such as Caldwell’s
Blue Eye Nightclub are apt to showcase
Norteño bands on Fridays and Saturdays.
Making the
Global Local
The question remains, even with
patterns emerging: How do suppliers and
distributors convert demographics into
dollars? “Our main goal is to make sure
we have the right accounts,” says Empire’s
Alcoba. “We look at zip codes and
specifically find where the consumers are,
where they live and where they shop. Then
we decide that’s where we’ll focus our on-
and off-premise selling.”
Not surprisingly, on the sales front-
lines, language itself is critical. Alcoba
notes that in metro New York, Empire
Merchants tries to place staff who under-
stand the area and its residents, ideally
speaking the language and understanding
the dominant cultures in the neighbor-
hoods. “It speaks to getting the most out
of the brand, and in the case of Hispanics,
understanding whether that means Mexi-
can, Colombian, Caribbean or others,”
Alcoba says.
Brand support is crucial to distributor
success, according to Alcoba. The past
couple of years have witnessed an increase
in Latino and African-American outreach
marketing, especially in the form of
outdoor advertising. The Johnnie Walker
“My Label is Black” campaign, launched
late last year, is highly visible in Latin-
American concentrated neighborhoods.
Musician/entrepreneur Don Omar and
former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada lent
their faces to the ad campaigns and have
made appearances; charitable partnerships
with local organizations help tie the brand
directly to the community.
multi -
Tecate Light’s new TV ads playfully use both English and Spanglish phrases. Rapper Nas is featured
in Hennessy Cognac’s “Wild Rabbit” campaign.
The 2013 LuckyRice festival, which celebrates
Asian cuisine and culture, attracted sponsor-
ship for its five major-city events from Bombay
Sapphire East, Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte,
Bordeaux, Asahi beer and D’Ussé Cognac.
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