Is the Más Club too much? Latinos will decide...
The latest attempt for Wal-Mart to cash in on Latinos is the Más Club, which opened in Houston on Thursday, which targets recent immigrants who miss those familiar foods of home — in American-style bulk sizes. The Sam’s Club spinoff is part of a broader effort by the retailer to target the nation’s fast-growing Latino population with dedicated stores.
Do you think dedicated stores for Hispanics are necessary or are the current Costo and Sam’s Clubs enough?
The Bentonville, Ark., retailer is also testing a service-heavy Sam’s Club that caters exclusively to small businesses while also targeting Latinos with a new food store called Supermercado de Walmart.
Some attempts by mainstream American food sellers to open Latino-themed stores ultimately fizzled, including a pioneering effort two decades ago by Safeway Inc.’s Vons supermarkets in Southern California called Tianguis, a Mexican name for a street market.
Grocery experts warned that Wal-Mart faces stiff competition from small bodegas and mid-sized grocery chains, such as Texas’s Fiesta Mart Inc., in what is already a crowded market.
“The question becomes, what can Wal-Mart offer that is not already being offered by a friendly face?” said Bob Reynolds, a former Safeway executive and food industry consultant.
For a $30 fee, less than the $40 for a basic Sam’s Club membership, customers get a Mexican take on warehouse-style food shopping, with a tortilla bakery, 20 varieties of fresh-made Mexican pastries, a butcher shop slicing custom cuts of pork, and ethnic delicacies such as cow tongues. That’s far more fresh food than at Sam’s Club, which mostly offers frozen and pre-packaged items.
The Más Club atmosphere is as much Mexican bodega as warehouse megastore. The store’s bright orange, green and red signs are in Spanish, with English subtitles. The store includes health-clinic and money-transfer businesses that lease space from Wal-Mart.
But it has fewer electronics and home appliances than Sam’s Club. Aisles are filled with soccer jerseys of Club Deportivo Guadalajara of Mexico, and FC Barcelona of Spain, as well as soda and candy from Femsa SA and Chupaletas SA.
While regional grocery chains such as Publix Super Markets Inc. and H.E. Butt Grocery Co. have also launched formats aimed at Latino shoppers in recent years, others have tailored existing stores with ethnic merchandise and Spanish-language signs.
That is the strategy at Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., which operates more than 500 grocery stores in the Southeast U.S. It added bilingual signs and merchandise in heavily Latino neighborhoods to match the Cuban, Central American or Mexican immigrant identity of shoppers.
“We decided to go down the path of one-store format, Winn-Dixie, because it allows us to operate more effectively,” said Dan Portnoy, chief merchandising officer for Winn-Dixie. “In the Miami area, we already have a strong brand.”
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