Marketing from the Grocery Aisles: Creating Memorable Customer Experiences

The recently released Temkin Experience Ratings report revealed Texas-based grocery H.E.B. tops the list with 88% overall excellent customer experience. The report was the result of surveying 10,000 US consumers about their perception of 268 companies across 19 industries, including those in healthcare, cable services, airlines, hotel chains, fast food restaurants, and grocery stores.

Having lived in Texas, I’m familiar with H.E.B., which tops the list. My first introduction was over the phone. My husband, who I’d married a month earlier, had just moved to Texas, from Oregon. His apartment was a few blocks from an H.E.B. and he regularly “gloated” about their meal deals. Every week, they advertised a “deal” whereby you purchase two or three items and get four or five related items for free. For instance, if you purchased a whole chicken and a bottle of BBQ sauce, you would get a box of instant rice, bag of lettuce, bottle of salad dressing, and a liter of coke.temkin_chart_560905

I know what you’re thinking, “It doesn’t sound overly exciting.” That’s the catch, the meal deals were highly addictive. Every week, I couldn’t wait find out what I could get for free. It was irrelevant that by the time I left Texas, less than five years later, I had amassed three boxes of fried catfish coating, bottles of hot sauce, and numerous other “free” items that I had no intention of every using.

I was an addict.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

A few weeks, after my husband arrived in Texas, he made an offer on a house. I immediately made reservations to fly out to sign papers. Truth be told, I was more intrigued by that week’s H.E.B. meal deal than seeing the house!

A few days before my flight, my husband informed me he’d purchased a gallon of H.E.B. ice cream, and received for free a can of whipped cream, jar of maraschino cherries, bunch of bananas, and small bag of pecans.

“Liar,” I thought. “There’s no frigg’n way a grocery store is going to give away those items just for buying their ice cream.”

My flight landed around 11 p.m. By midnight, I was making myself a sundae. And so began the addiction.

There was more to H.E.B. than the deal, however. The stores were huge with large produce, meat, and bakery sections I was thrilled with the quality and breadth of produce, some of which imported from Mexico. Gorgeous tomatoes, peppers, greens, and fruits.

I recalled that they had a food demo area, where a chef would produce delectable meals for shoppers to sample. I still have a tin of rubbing spices, after sampling it on a pork roast.

With Texas seemingly having the four seasons of winter, hot, hotter, and hell, H.E.B. offered a nice respite from the heat. I welcome the opportunity to linger by the freezer cases!

Chick-fil-A, is third on the list, after Trader Joe’s. The next highest rated fast food company is Sonic Drive-In, which we were introduced to when we arrived in Texas. What makes Sonic fabulous are their ice cream treats, unique drinks (I often fantasize about their diet cherry limeade with slices of macerated limes), and the novelty of driving-up and being greeted by a smiling-faced teen, who brings your order while you wait in your air conditioned car. Where else can you hope in the car at 11 o’clock at night, wearing your pajamas, and order a coconut cream pie shake or orange crème slush?

What makes your company unique? And does it create memorable experience in your customers’ minds?

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