Brand Experience Brief: H-E-B

This retail customer experience video audit and analysis takes you inside H-E-B, named The Best Grocery Store in America by Epicurious Magazine and #2 retailer in the Temkin Group’s 2016 Experience Ratings (beating out Amazon and Chick-fil-A).

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Which grocery store chain was named The Best Grocery Store in America by Epicurious Magazine?  It’s the same brand that beat out Amazon and Chick-fil-A in the Temkin Group’s 2016 Experience Ratings of best retailer.  I’m talking about H-E-B and this video audit and analysis takes you inside one of its locations in Houston.

You might not have heard of H-E-B — there are only 370 stores compared to Safeway’s 2200 and they’re all in Texas and northeast Mexico — but this brand presents a customer experience that elevates the mundane weekly chore of grocery shopping to new heights.

The store’s size alone makes the shopping experience different — most H-E-B stores are 70,000 to 80,000 square feet whereas the average grocery store is around 45,000.  It could be overwhelming but everything is laid out well so wayfinding is easy and there are lots of signs to help you navigate the extensive selection like this one that explains the full range of peppers from mild & nicey to super spicy.  The store also uses organizing approaches like color-coding their bulk tea leaves by the different benefits of each variety, like “red to wake up” and “yellow to be immune.”

H-E-B is well-known for its generous use of sampling stations including ones for sushi and for wine, and there’s even a cooking demonstration station.

H-E-B uses signs to convey its key brand attributes and brand personality like this one that about the quality of its organic cheese and this one for its meat department.  Signs also convey fun messages like “Life is Better with a Little Indulgence” in its bakery section and preparation and serving suggestions for produce.  Freshness is conveyed throughout the store including at the check-out stand signs.  H-E-B’s emphasis on healthful offerings is evident from features like a juice bar and a huge nutrition and supplement section.

Perhaps the most distinguishing aspect of the H-E-B brand is its connection to Texas.  The store has many categories that include extensive selections of products made in Texas like sodas and beer and you’ll find Texas-themed signs are all over the place.  Plus it boasts that it offers more Texas-grown produce than any other retailer.

Of course, H-E-B executes on grocery store fundamentals like having a pharmacy and florist and promoting their low prices with signs and coupons throughout the store. But it also has some very unique features like a fresh tortilleria, a hummus bar, a station to grind your own nut butter, and full-sized fast casual restaurant called Table 57.

The experience of shopping at H-E-B is so extraordinary that I included it in my e-book, Extraordinary Experiences: What Great Retail and Restaurant Brands Do.  Go to http://deniseleeyohn.com/extraordinary-experiences to get your copy today and learn how to design and deliver customer experiences that inspire customers’ love and loyalty.

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