National Pork Board director of multicultural marketing Jose de Jesus has been working on Hispanic-specific research in recent months. That research is taking a new turn with a Mexican immersion trip. Find out more about this important target market and the groundbreaking research in this second Pork Pod update on this topic.
Jose de Jesus, Director of Multicultural Marketing, National Pork Board
Don Wick: 00:04 From the Pork Checkoff in Des Moines, Iowa, this is Pork Pod. Pork Pod a look at the hot topics in today’s pork industry. The Pork Checkoff is working for you through various forms of research, promotion, and consumer information projects. I’m Don Wick speaking on behalf of the Pork Checkoff and today our guest is Jose de Jesus, who is the Director of Multicultural Marketing for the National Pork Board. We continue our conversation on the importance of this Hispanic market. Very unique immersion trip is underway with the National Pork Board. Jose is a part of that. Let’s back up Jose and and tell us a bit more about the research. What works been going on as it relates to this market.
Jose de Jesus: 00:42 Over the last five to six months The National Pork Board or the Pork Checkoff has been on a mission to better understand Hispanic consumers from a pork perspective. By that, what we’re trying to do is trying to conduct some qualitative research, interviewing Hispanics or Latinos who have a passion for the product and what we have been doing is we’ve been interviewing folks through focus groups in home interviews, going to people’s living rooms and talking to them about pork, doing shop along and observing what they’re actually buying at the grocery store as well as doing dine alongs where we take some of these folks to dinner and observe what they’re ordering from a menu to understand what those habits are. We have been doing this in some key diversity cities such as a Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Chicago, and those are cities where we believe there’s a large Hispanic population. Our goal really is to understand their perception and behavior towards a product.
Jose de Jesus: 02:08 We have an idea that they have an affinity for the product that really separates them from any other demographics. So from that standpoint, we know they’re a great consumer, but we want to understand what really driving that kind of, um, a behavior and an affinity for the product. And we really have a blank slate to this. I mean, we’re trying to start fresh so that we, we can really understand what drives this type of consumer to the store to purchase our product and to consume at a high rate, which is one of the reasons I’m, we honestly, we have been doing Hispanic marketing for a while is because of that, of that behavior towards the product, but we want to get deeper, uh, in terms of the knowledge that we, we can get from, from this group so that when we are working with our partners throughout the supply chain, those being the retailers, food service companies and as well as packers and those folks are looking to engage this consumer, they have a better understanding of what are some of the drivers and also what makes them a great consumer to go after.
Jose de Jesus: 03:22 So that’s really what we’ve been doing over the last, um, you know, five, six months. That’s been pretty fascinating. I think some of the key takeaways and insights that we’ve been able to get our follows, number one, there’s a passion for the product that is unmatched. I mean, these folks truly love the product. Um, even though they’re eating it out of high level and they consume it more than any other demographic in this country pork is not necessarily the number one consumer meet. Um, and we’re trying to understand why now when you ask them what is the meat that they enjoy, the most pork rises to the top almost unanimously so they, they really have an affinity for the product. So when we keep asking, I don’t understanding better what what’s really going on with this consumer is that they, they clearly have some concerns about the safety and the safety and the health benefits of the product.
Jose de Jesus: 04:18 So they’re constantly being told, um, perhaps by the medical community, their family and friends, that pork is not healthy for you. And that’s a big misconception. Um, and they’re also being told that it’s not safe to eat at times, therefore you have to overcook it to a point where, where it’s, um, you know, very, very well done. So part of that stems from their cultural background. They come from countries where maybe, um, the, the control that they have in those countries is not the same as we have here. We remind them that our producers in this country race the best pig in the world, therefore proves the best pork in the world. So we have tremendous controls here, quality control that are own match, um, against any other countries. So when they start understanding and learning more about that, you can see that they start welcoming that as well as when we talked to them about the health product, right?
Jose de Jesus: 05:12 So, uh, we have 8 cuts that are lean, uh, particularly on the loin side, you know, the whole loin is a lean product. So, um, they start understanding that and, and really getting a sense of what some of the benefits are for, for them if they consume this product and they seem to be very open. So the challenge for us at the National Pork Board, the Pork Checkoff as to how do we communicate this, um, this benefits to them because obviously they have an appreciation for the product. They love the flavor. That’s the number one attribute for them. That’s why they consume it the most, but then if there’s a barrier out there, which there is in terms of a health and safety, it’s up to us to really identify how we can better a message to or this benefits and dispel some of the misconceptions that seems to be out there.
Don Wick: 06:02 You guys are taking this to the next step and it’s, it’s, uh, to me pretty groundbreaking immersion trip. But how, what do you hope to learn when you take in this experience?
Jose de Jesus: 06:13 Well, uh, we, we hope to learn what is that connection that the consumer has, the Hispanic consumer has with a product because I think there could be some learning for the so called general market. So the Non Hispanic market that maybe consumes a product but maybe doesn’t have that emotional connection with the product. So there are three or four things that I, that I think are driving that emotional connection. Number one is a cultural thing, right? This is a product that when they were growing up, um, in their countries or in their family that this problem was always there. They always were thinking, well, my mom used to make this when I was growing up, my grandma used to make it, nobody can make her her.
Jose de Jesus: 06:55 So there seems to be that passion and that relationship, uh, from a, from a family and product perspective that we don’t see in any other demographics. So that’s number one. Number two, there is also that a family and friends present. So anytime there was a family gathering or people came over to your house or friend’s pork was always there, right? So that seems to be, uh, that, that the pork a for some reason was always there when you were having a good time. Uh, and then the last one is special occasion. This is a, this is a group that thrive in special education from, uh, from, um, from a cultural perspective. So what, by that, what I mean is that when every time there was a holiday, there’s a Quinceanera, our sweet 16 here in the US, what they call it, um, Christmas pork is always there.
Jose de Jesus: 07:52 So it seems to us that pork is always present at the most important times for these folks. So there’s a, there’s a natural affinity and there’s also that emotional connection that, um, that, you know, separates our product, um, to, to other products. So we try to understand that, piggy back off with that, try to learn as much as we can to see if there’s anything that we can learn from this that can maybe be useful, have some sort of halo effect in other markets. But, you know, the good news is these folks are obviously eating a heck of a lot of this product, uh, in this country and we’re trying to understand the main reasons why that is. Now from that standpoint, uh, we also understand, we hypothesized based on our knowledge of this consumer, that they are culturally in this country a many, as they become more comfortable, they start living in both worlds.
Jose de Jesus: 08:53 And ultimately, uh, the, the kind of main steam mentality. Some folks, the consumption of pork declines a little bit. So one of the things that we’re trying to do, and I think this is where, where it will be groundbreaking for the pork industry, is we’re trying to understand that and how are we going to do that? As we’re going to go to Mexico, starting with Mexico here and the fall, well actually we’re going there next week, but then in the fall to do qualitative work and the whole idea is to map the journey that Hispanic have from a pork perspective. In other words, so when they are in their home countries, we hypothesize that consumption is very, very high. Uh, however, as they move into the US and they’re still on, acculturated is very high. They become to acculturated consumption, kind of declines a little bit. They still are eating at a high rate but not necessarily as much as when they were in their home country or on acculturated in this country and the US. So we’re trying to understand that so we can identify, be proactive and how do we address this, um, in the future. And if it turns out that our hypothesis might not be as accurate than we know, but we need to be proactive in making sure that this consumer who happens to love our product remains one of the, one of the top customers, not just now, but into the future.
Don Wick: 10:14 Has research been done like this before? I guess I’m talking about the immersion trip.
Jose de Jesus: 10:18 Uh, no. Uh, I don’t believe so. Uh, I believe, uh, you know, not from a Hispanic perspective. This immersion trip that we got going on, uh, we leave on Sunday and what we’re trying to do is really learn more about the culture, what the relationship is between Mexican consumers live in their own country, Mexico and pork. We know that they eat it a lot, but we also know that there’s, there’s a story behind that relationship and we’re trying to understand it so that when we go and do some research in the fall, we’re prepared to be able to ask the right questions. We understand the culture. I mean, Mexico is a big country. All right, so we’re going to different places throughout the country specifically Guadalajara and then Mexico City where you have a really a good mesh of people from, whether it’s from the north, central, South Asia or south part of the country. So the whole idea is to really immerse ourselves into the culture and the types of cuisines that are spread throughout the country so that we’re being as relevant as we can when we’ve talked to these consumers in the fall.
Don Wick: 11:33 Jose de Jesus from the National Pork Board. Thanks to you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself, visit pork.org.