Focus on familiarity
Certain regional Hispanic snacks are more appealing to consumers than others, and knowing which are most likely to succeed “is essential for operators looking to add these types of items to menus,” the report said. Above all else, familiarity seems to be a common thread.
The most appealing regional Hispanic snacks are ones that already have high penetration on restaurant menus, such as tacos.
“Thirty per cent of Top 500 operators overall have tacos on their menus,” the report said. “Therefore, consumers likely find tacos to be a familiar — and thus appealing — format to try a regional Hispanic snack, even if it contains unfamiliar ingredients.”
However, a number of more exotic regional offerings are garnering interest based on their descriptors. Half of consumers said they find Venezuelan arepas and Salvadoran pupusas enticing. Arepas are corn-based dough sandwiches often filled with meat, vegetables, cheese and sauce, and pupusas are thick corn tortillas stuffed with a savory filling.
“Because both arepas and pupusas have ingredients that most American consumers are familiar with, operators should consider menuing these items with more detailed descriptions so they don’t seem so foreign to diners,” the report said.
Beverages may serve as a gateway to Hispanic flavors. Consumers are more likely to try something they have never heard of if it’s a beverage because it is less expensive and less of a risk than food.
“Operators who want to test adding regional Hispanic snacks to their menus may want to start with a beverage,” the report said. “They can promote a fruity agua fresca, for example, as a perfect between-meal snack to cool down with during summer months. And it’s simple to create in-house — just combine any fruit with water, or even jam to amp up the flavor.”