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Food marketers like Kraft Foods and Anheuser-Busch are making their products and advertising more user-friendly for Hispanic consumers by adding Spanish translations to packaging and selling lime-infused beer. The Dallas-based pizza chain, Pizza Patrón, is going the opposite direction and adding English to their Spanish-language marketing materials. The shift comes in response to focus groups and surveys that indicated the chain was attracting younger and more multicultural customers.

When the first Pizza Patrón opened in 1986, it lured first-generation immigrants who tended to order in Spanish. Recognizing the opportunity to differentiate Pizza Patrón from other pizza chains, the company’s founder focused on opening new stores in neighborhoods that were predominantly Hispanic, offered menu choices likely to appeal to Hispanics, used Spanish on menus and menu boards, and focused advertising on Spanish-speaking radio and television stations. The strategy resulted in a chain that has grown to 100 stores in 25 years, and that projects revenues of more than $40 million this year.

Now the Pizza Patrón restaurants are serving the children of these early customers. These young diners, who frequently have purchasing power in the household because of their English language skills, are more fully integrated into American culture. According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, these young Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the youth population in the United States, making them a valuable resource for Pizza Patrón. As a result, Pizza Patrón is shifting its marketing mix so that a significantly higher number of ads will run on English-language media outlets. New stores will open in neighborhoods that are less heavily Hispanic, as well as in areas where Hispanics have moved.

Despite the appeal of this new audience, the chain doesn’t want to run the risk of alienating its existing customer base. As a result, the restaurants will continue to offer food which appeals to its target clientele, including toppings like chorizo sausage and jalapeno peppers, churros, and lime-and-pepper flavored chicken wings. While English will now be the primary language on menu boards and printed materials, these marketing tools will still contain Spanish. The store also plans new marketing efforts designed to appeal to their traditional clientele, including in-store displays relating to holidays traditionally celebrated by Hispanics and Spanish-language phrases that mean more to Hispanic customers than to those who simply translate the individual words.

Discussion Question: Why is Pizza Patrón developing a marketing strategy that is more English-language based when its customer profile is primarily Hispanic?

Julie Jargon, “Pizza Chain Seeks Slice of Bicultural Pie,” WSJ.com, December 30, 2010.