Can Latino Diners Boost Red Lobster?


Red Lobster is hoping that a new push to cater to Latinos will translate into profits and help save the struggling business.
The seafood chain recently launched a $3 million Spanish language TV ad campaign in the restaurant’s first effort to reach Latinos. According to a recent article in Businessweek, the ads will air on Telemundo, Univision, ESPN Deportes, and other Spanish language channels through March.
Red Lobster has about 700 stores and says around 10 percent of its customers are Latino, a similar percentage to the rest of the casual dining industry. Latinos represents 16 percent of the U.S. population, and that figure is expected to grow to 30 percent by 2050. Red Lobster hopes to cash in on that growth trend. Red Lobster has been facing slow profits. It had 729 restaurants in 1996, 654 in 2000 and 704 in 2012. Last year the chain began a new menu with cheaper items including more chicken and beef.
Research shows more than half of Latinos prefer to have advertising in Spanish, says Stewart Marquina, the chain’s director brand management. “If you grew up in a country where Red Lobster was not there, and you come here and it’s not advertised on Spanish language television that’s a disadvantage,” he said.