Writing and Photography by José C. Marmolejo
The restless, ever-paying-attention-to-the-customer entrepreneurs, have devised ways to keep you going back to the food store and making you spend more time and money at it. The never-stopping, always-looking-for-new-experiences customers, have been catered to, with more reasons to visit and spend more time at the Mexican supermarkets than ever before. It’s an ongoing evolution that gives consumers in Mexico more motivation to enjoy shopping in person.
Recently, I learned that a big Asian company has people monitoring the internet for searches of products that haven’t been invented, produced or manufactured. After a few thousand searches for a particular item that doesn’t exist, it gets designed, manufactured, and sent to market. Marketers have devised a way to figure out what people dream! This is the status quo of digital marketing research. Although common sense lets you know that people do not want to drive around Mexico City to shop, “Concept Designers” have found a way to make you shop for groceries, socialize, and have a snack or lunch, while you may even settle some business issues, all in one stop.
It’s a fact that today you can order your groceries over the phone and have them delivered to your doorstep or order them through the store web page and pick them up at a drive-thru in the store parking lot. But if you do that, you will be missing among other things:
All this would be your loss if you shopped from home! What about a $15 USD Kopi Luwak espresso—the coffee beans of which are eaten in cherry form and fermented in the digestive tract of an Asian palm civet—or take home one pound of those coffee beans for only $650 USD. Do we want to miss that? Some of us will.
While I may have favorites among supermarkets, there are other stores that compete for that title. Some have the best assortment of wines…
…or the best prices for mezcal or an Illy coffee bar or a tea bar with a different variety of tea for every week of the year.
There are places with pizzas baked while you wait to be served at a table with full restaurant service including the bottle of wine of your choice from the store shelves, opened for you and served at store prices.
What happened to the supermarket with free parking, some weekday special offers, and discount coupons? It still exists but it continues tending another segment of the big market, while segmentation has brought variety, sophistication, and eccentricities.
Now check this one out: department stores have also jumped on the bandwagon. One store in particular has space subleased to several food vendors, serving among other things churros con chocolate, Middle Eastern food, and to top it all, a cantina with a wide selection of tequila, mezcal, and beer. Yes, all this inside a department store! Now, the Mexican gents have an amicable place to wait while the ladies do their thing. This department store is not going to die soon.
All this didn’t happen overnight. It took years of research, trial and error, pricing exercises, changes and more changes, but in the end that work has produced today’s food shopping experience.
This only illustrates how important food is and how we have been lured into sensual experiences that keep us going back to the store for more, learning about food ingredients, recipes, enticing us to cook and making us stay longer—and purchase more of course—under a roof where food and drink fantasies can come true. Ufffff!