Campbell's Targets Hispanics With Nacho Cheese Soup; Is Move Too Stereotypical?

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Campbell Soup Company announced earlier this year that it would be launching a wide array of new products in the second and third quarter of 2013 that were originally slated to be launched in the end of the 2014 fiscal year. Amongst these products that will soon be hitting the market, or have already hit the market, are a line of Hispanic-inspired cooking soups. The company is no stranger to creating products that they believe will appeal to the Hispanic market, as they have launched products like the Goldfish Crackers in Queso Fiesta flavor and Kick-It-Up a Nacho flavor. In order to attract more Hispanic products, the company has also been adding dual-language packaging for many of its Pepperidge Farm products.

The decision from Campbell to focus on the Hispanic consumer is not a surprising one, as the U.S. Census estimates that as of 2011, there are 52,000,000 Hispanics living in the United States, making it the largest ethnic minority in the nation. And the strength of the Hispanic consumer lies not only in their population, but also their purchasing power: According to the Selig Center for Economic Growth, the purchasing power of Hispanics in 2012 was $1.2 trillion (and is estimated to reach $1.5 trillion in 2015) and Hispanic households are more likely to spend a higher proportion of their money on food (groceries and restaurants) than their peers.

With Campbell seeing a loss of profit -- the company saw a 30 percent drop in their quarterly profit -- and a 6 percent drop in their shares, it's no surprise that the company is looking to switch things up and cater towards the changing demographic and demand of America. But one look at the Hispanic-inspired products lined up for release raises an impertinent question: Are these products really catered towards the Hispanic community? Or perhaps more importantly, can a few cans of soup represent an entire ethnic community? The answer to those questions, simply put, is no.

While the intention of the Campbell Soup Co. may be noble (or financial), their delivery is poor. Whether you look at the products they rolled out, the names they chose, or their marketing tactic, one thing is for sure: These products are serving the purpose of perpetuating the stereotype of Hispanic and Latino cultural identity. Every other product has a tagline of "fiesta" or makes reference to "nacho cheese." Talk to any person of Hispanic heritage and they will attest, their lives are not revolved around fiestas and their culinary identity has very little to do with nacho cheese. In essence, the products being launched could be doing more harm than good by perpetuating Hispanic stereotypes.

Not to mention, the soups are far from authentic. Each Hispanic country has regional delicacies and cuisines that differ from area to area. Let's take Mexico, for example: Each state in the Central American country has its own cuisine and no one dish could summarize the nation's cuisine. So how can a line of soups embody the diversity and wide range of foods found in Latin America? Yes, Campbells says the soups are "Hispanic-inspired" and are not claiming that they are authentic, but one can't help but see that the soups are not really catered towards the Hispanic population. Instead, it seems like the soups are catered towards the American population that believes "nacho cheese" is the essence of Latin cuisine. That's not to say Hispanics won't enjoy the soups or that the soups won't taste good, but we have to beg Campbell to stop pretending that products slapped with a "queso" label automatically caters to the Hispanic population.

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