George Jenkins found Publix Super Markets in 1930 (“About Publix”, n.d.). He decided to take a risk at becoming an entrepreneur, and walked away from the security of a wonderful job. His store “set not only a new precedent for cleanliness and beauty, but also the Publix standard for employee relations” (“About Publix”, n.d.). He had a very friendly persona, and was known to the employees as “Mr. George” (“About Publix”, n.d.). Within the first four years, gross annuals sales went from $100,000 to $120,000 by 1934 (“About Publix”, n.d.). George Jenkins stayed ahead of his competitors by traveling the country to seek out products to send back to his store (“About Publix”, n.d.). This also provided him ideas on ways that he could improve upon his store to maintain a competitive edge. In 1940, George’ s desire to be the best seemed almost obtainable. He mortgaged his orange grove, and put the capital toward building Florida’s first supermarket, introducing technologies yet to be seen in this industry. Publix’s website states:
In 1940, George Jenkins mortgaged an orange grove he had acquired during the Depression for a down payment on his dream store – Florida’s first supermarket. He built his “food palace” of marble, glass and stucco, and equipped it with innovations never seen before in a grocery store. Air conditioning. Fluorescent lighting. Electric-eye doors. Frozen food cases. Piped-in music. Eight-foot-wide aisles. Open dairy cases designed to Mr. George’s specifications. In – store donut and flower shops (“About Publix”, n.d.).
As impressive as his strategies were, what has allowed Publix to continue to prosper into the late 20th century? Publix has accomplished this with their unprecedented marketing strategy.
Publix, like most supermarkets, offer a variety of different goods for their customers to purchase. However, the products selected for each store differs at each location. Publix selects their inventory, as well as their store layout based on a multitude of factors. For instance, Publix has initiated the opening of several stores, which cater to the Hispanic market. These stores have been named Publix Sabor. They can be found in several places throughout Orlando, Miami, and other areas that are heavily influenced by a Hispanic population. Heather Brown author of Publix Sabor : In – stores Uncover Broad Audience states that:
By narrowing its focus, Publix Super Markets (Lakeland, Fla.) found its demand actually grew. Its new Hispanic format, Publix Sabor, demonstrates that consumer preference for fresh, quality foods, particularly in a bakery, can target all demographics. “Publix Sabor serves all customers but with a focus on Hispanic and Caribbean products,” said Maria Brous, Publix Director of media and community relations. That focus is evident when customers walk into the 61,000-sq. ft. Publix Sabor store in Hialeah. Customers do not need to speak Spanish (although it helps) to appreciate the quantity, quality and variety of foods available at Publix Sabor. (Brown, 2006)
Publix market potential varies from every location. Every store has a different focus based on different demographics, such as: average level of income, general population, and age. Publix’s market potential is endless, if they can remain competitive with their prices and originality.
Publix, just like many other supermarkets utilizes a variety of promotional tools to aid with their consumers interests. Other than the commonly seen weekly sales that almost every supermarket takes part in, Publix has created an array of original promotional tools to keep their customers interested. A few of these are in-store demonstrations and sampling, the Publix Apron Cooking School, and Publix brand foods. If one were to walk through a Publix supermarket, they would be drawn to the various aromas that can be found throughout the store. From the fresh cookies and bread at the bakery, to the live demonstrations being shown which feature Publix products that are currently in the sale circular. Publix really knows how to get food on their customer’s minds. Throughout the store, there are various samples being handed out mostly of Publix brand food to give the consumer a chance to experience first hand the aromas, and quality of the food available for purchase. This is a great way to influence their buyer’s behaviors but at the same time gives the customer a sense of being appreciated. Publix also has a live cooking demo done within the store using Publix brand items that are on sale, with a featured recipe. This gives the customers a chance to experience the Publix brand food, and even demonstrates to them how easy it is to prepare the meal, at the same time saving them money. With the ingredients conveniently right on hand in the front of the store. Making it quick and easy to get tonight’s meal.
Another great way that Publix influences their customers is by having a program to assist Adults and children in cooking techniques. Publix Apron Cooking School described by Publix as:
Whether you’re an accomplished cook or a brand-new beginner, Aprons Cooking School can help you improve your skills and enjoy your time in the kitchen. At our schools, we offer a wide array of classes covering every sort of cuisine and technique, taught by accomplished professionals. Categories included: Celebrity Chef, featuring cooking personalities from around the nation. Talk of the Town, taught by area restaurant chefs who have made a name for themselves. Pairing Topics, which explore beers and wines, and how to enjoy them with good food. Cooking Techniques, where you can improve your skills, whatever they may be. Special Topics include everything from appetizers to woks. Kid's Topics are geared for children aged 8-12. Teen's Topics are for aspiring cooks from 13-18 (“About Publix Cooking School”, n.d.)
The final aspect that sets Publix apart from the rest of their competitors is their own brand food. Publix has created food that is similar to large brand name competitors that has either the same quality or better at a cheaper price. Because of this, they are able to offer their customers better deals such as buy one get one free, or buy one get one fifty percent off. This is very important because it influences the buyer’s behaviors, and consumer’s attitudes that are influenced by price, and quality.
Publix, other than their Publix Sabor branch store that was previously discussed, has no real target market. The location and general demographic of the surrounding area influences store designs, and products availability. They seem to be doing an exceptional job at handling their nonspecific marketing segmentation, ABC News states that: “The top ranked stores were Wegmans and Trader Joe's. Top regional chains were Wegmans in the Northeast; Publix and Harris Teeter in the South; Raley's in California; and Hy-Vee in the Midwest.” (“The Nations Best Grocery Stores”, n.d.). In the first quarter of 2011, they had produced $6,836,040 in total revenue (“Google Finance: Publix Super Markets Inc.”, n.d). However, holding the number one spot in their market segment should definitely keep them on the defensive. With facing new threats every day, they need attempt to continue with their success by focusing on a cultural market segments. Target markets that Publix should consider entering are area’s that are heavily influenced by Asian. The stores should be designed with an Asian feel containing a large variety of Asian foods, and products that have been Americanized. After all, the United States demographic profile for 2011 shows that Asians account for 4.43% of the United States and growing (“United States Demographic Profile 2011”, n.d.); and large majorities of American’s enjoy Asian foods. With no major competition in this market segment, if Publix pursued this option they would be dominate.
Consumer Buying Decision Process
A majority of supermarket consumers, at one point or another, fall into every stage associated with the Consumer Buying Process. The first step that is usual taken by these consumers is Problem Recognition. Every consumer in a grocery store realizes that they need food in order to survive. Upon recognizing this problem the consumer then uses internal and external search to select a product. They will base their decisions on either past purchases that they are satisfied with, as well as ones that may have been recommended to them by word of mouth. The consumer will then evaluate The Alternatives, i.e. “Should I go with the Publix brand or the name brand? Can I risk quality for a cheaper price? Should I go with something that I know I will be satisfied with?” These are some of the questions that grocery store consumers will often ask themselves. The next step the consumer will take is making a Purchase Decisions. Based on the information that they have gathered from the previous steps, they will select a product in place it in their cart. However, just because they place this item in the cart does not mean that the purchase is complete. There are thousands of items throughout the store that could influence the consumer to reevaluate their decisions. The next step seen within the Consumer Buying Decisions Process is the actual purchasing of the products. The consumer now has paid for the product, and has it at their disposal. The consumer at some point will have the opportunity to consume the product, which will lead us into the final stage of the process. Post-Purchase Evaluation. Upon using the product, the consumer at one point of another will evaluate if the decisions to purchase the product was the right one. They will base these factors off of taste, price, quality, and reliability of the product. This final stage will determine if the consumer will repurchase those products at another point. However, food isn’t the only thing that will influence buyer’s decisions at a supermarket. Other necessities such as toiletries, paper towels and plates will also have consumers going through the decisions process in their head whether they realize it or not.