From time to time, the great captains of modern retail, Walmart, Target, Kroger, Publix, etc., would do well to observe how the “small guys”, (independent grocers) engage consumers by generating high levels of satisfaction, purchase frequency and ultimately shopper loyalty.
The results of many independents who manage to create a close link with their trading area neighborhood are very clear. They not only establish an intimate relationship with their consumer base but also generate sustained growth of their business. It’s possible that many of these retail titans mentioned above have these nimble independent grocers in their sights now more than ever as we have entered the era of targeting with a “hyper-local” approach.
In order to share one of the best examples of hyper-local retail that I’ve observed in multicultural / Hispanic retailing, we must go to Southeast Florida, specifically to Normandy Isle, where there is a diverse and dynamic community in north Miami Beach. Today, this area is affectionately called “Little Buenos Aires” because of the high density of Argentine inhabitants.
Between the bay, the beach, and the breeze is Bay Supermarket, an independent grocer, whose owner Francis Rodriguez, Dominican, has been operating shrewdly for 26 years. Rodriguez comments, “in 1993 when my family became owners of this store, it was very small, only 1,200 square feet and there were almost no Argentines in the area.” He adds, “the trigger that prompted the arrival of many Argentines was the financial crisis that the country experienced in 2001-2002.” “One day, some Argentine students came into the store asking about yerba mate, and from that point on there was continuous Argentine growth”. (Mate is a shrub that is used to prepare infusions grown in South America and popularized to a large extent by Argentines) According to Alec Veinger of AccuStore, a hyper-local approach gives you the ability to offer the best shopper experience by adapting a store to the specific needs of your community. Think of it as another “P” to add to the famous “Four Ps retail” (product, price, promotion and place). The new and critical fifth P is proximity: to match the correct location with the shopper in an effort to drive immediate gratification. By observing the increase of Argentine consumers in the area, Rodriguez has deepened his knowledge and understanding of his shoppers’ preferences and tastes. He comments, “in all countries there are idiosyncrasies and differences in the accents according to the regions of the country, but all Argentines have a strong affinity for their special cuts of meat, they love good French bread, pasta and Malbec wine, among others. And, a deeply rooted cultural / social tradition is the “asado”. (Grilling cook-out in English)
It is no secret in the neighborhood that the Bay Supermarket employs a talented Argentine butcher and what sells the most are specialized cuts of Argentine beef such as Vacio (flank steak), and Bife de Chorizo, (sirloin / New York Strip). In order to provide the fuel for traditional Argentine grill feasts, the charcoal section is very spacious.
Several years ago, Bay Supermarket expanded to 4,200 square feet in the sales area. It also includes a cafeteria where you can find fresh pastries stocked daily by a third party of Argentine origin. Near the check-out lanes there is a an extremely wide assortment of Alfajores, a dulce de leche sandwich cookie, which are staples in Argentine bakeries and households. Rodriguez adds that personalized service at the point of sale and overall customer service has a high priority in ensuring a positive shopper experience.
Hyper-local retailing can go a long way, from customizing store design, visual merchandising, marketing and of course a laser focus on product assortment. On the digital front huge opportunities for shopper engagement have emerged. Over the last few years the use of beacon technology to drive personalized offers on customers’ smartphones in a particular store. The benefits can be considerable.
For Francis Rodriguez and his team, Bay Supermarket acts in a hyper-local way, ensuring that the mix of the five P’s achieves an outstanding shopper experience driving greater purchase frequency and generating ongoing loyalty. Undoubtedly this is a multicultural hyper-local success story.
By Jaime E. Parra “Rick”
Executive Director Multicultural/Hispanic Consulting
WINSTON WEBER & ASSOCIATES
Reprinted with permission from ABASTO Magazine