LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix Super Markets here has all but saturated Florida with its traditional format, but that doesn't mean the company doesn't have room to grow.
By adding two new highly targeted retail banners — Publix Sabor, which caters to Hispanic consumers, and GreenWise, which will specialize in organic and natural fare, Publix is hoping to expand its appeal beyond the mainstream customers who have made its traditional supermarkets successful.
At the two Publix Sabor stores in Kissimmee and Hialeah, for example, the company has greatly expanded its Hispanic food offerings in all departments and has added bilingual signs and Hispanic music. Employees are also bilingual.
The company is expected to open its first GreenWise store later this summer or in early fall in the upscale community of Palm Beach Gardens, with three more set to follow in Vero Beach, Tampa and Boca Raton.
Catering to the needs of individual customers is a process the company adheres to in all of its stores, a spokeswoman for the company told SN.
“Each of our stores is customized for local optimization, meaning we stock our stores with the products our customers are seeking,” said Maria Brous, the Publix spokeswoman. “We understand that in different market areas or different demographic markets, product mix may need to be adjusted to reflect the markets we're in.”
She described the localized merchandising as just another aspect of the chain's commitment to providing a high level of service.
“We listen to our customers' feedback. We introduce new products, we bring in products requested by our customers, and we work hard with our suppliers to ensure that we remain on the cutting edge of product introduction/placement,” she said.
Richard George, professor of food marketing in the Haub School of Business at St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, cited Publix as an example of a traditional supermarket operator that is taking an important step toward catering to specific customer niches.
“What Publix is doing with Sabor, for the Hispanic market, is an example of someone in the ‘big middle’ that is really doing it well,” he said. “Those stores are well signed, they have the 100-pound bags of rice, they have candles, and they really understand their market.
“They have a concept where people can go and say, ‘This is a place that really understands me.’”