EXCLUSIVE: Heritage Grocers CEO Discusses Importance of Multicultural Grocers

Doug Sanders also talks about company’s growth strategy as it expands to 115 stores
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
Bridget Headshot
Heritage Grocers Group Doug Sanders
Doug Sanders

In tandem with the opening of Cardenas Markets’ latest store, a 40,000-square-foot location in Las Vegas, on Wednesday, Dec. 6, Progressive Grocer spoke with Doug Sanders, chairman and CEO of Ontario, Calif.-based Heritage Grocers Group (HGG), parent company of Cardenas, as well as the Los Altos Ranch, El Rancho Supermercado banner and Tony’s Fresh Market banners, about its unique approach to multicultural grocery retailing, as well as a glimpse of what the future holds.

Progressive Grocer: Why is it important to have retailers that cater to particular ethnicities?

Doug Sanders: Retailers that hope to have meaningful ties to their customers must know that each and every community has different and important cultural nuances, preferences, needs and traditions. Catering to these unique experiences helps to foster a sense of belonging, which in turn helps establishes direct ties with a community and real connections with customers. When customers enter a store that is built directly with them in mind, that store feels like home, which can help bring entire communities together. Consequently, as market dynamics shift and customer identities change, this reality becomes a crucial aspect of consumer preferences.

PG: What makes HGG’s banners stand out in this respect?

DS: At Heritage Grocers Group, we understand that meeting customers where they want with the goods that they desire is paramount. Catering to particular ethnicities allows us to provide tailored experiences, products and foods that resonate deeply with those communities.

PG: What opportunities exist for retailers in relation to Hispanic consumers specifically?

DS: Put simply, we believe that investing in the Hispanic community is an investment in America, as it’s the fastest-growing demographic in the United States. Hispanic consumers are a growing and powerful demographic that will respond to retailers and brands that work to meet their needs. 

[Read more: "Hispanic Grocery Opportunities on the Rise"]

For Hispanic consumers, fostering diversity within our stores enables us to better understand and serve this demographic. With Hispanic consumers representing a vibrant and dynamic market with their purchasing power on the rise, we can create a win-win situation for both Heritage Grocers Group and for them. I can only speak for HGG, but understanding their cultural values and preferences presents immense opportunities and by offering culturally relevant products, personalized experiences and targeted marketing campaigns, our stores can establish meaningful relationships with Hispanic consumers.

PG: Talk about HGG’s current growth strategy with respect to its various banners.

DS: Our new Cardenas Markets location in Las Vegas represents our 58th location, and overall, we’re now up to 115 Heritage Grocers locations in six states. First and foremost, our growth requires us to stay strong with our loyal customers. We always prioritize innovation and customer-centricity across our various stores and locations, with respect to maintaining one identity across each. Our growth strategy revolves around this multifaceted approach where we’re investing heavily in our freshness, authenticity and affordability. We’re continuously analyzing market trends, consumer behaviors and preferences to tailor each location’s offerings to specific demographics to create unique value propositions. And we continue to analyze the market to find new opportunities to open stores.

PG: How does the company choose new locations to expand to?

DS: Expanding to new locations is a strategic decision rooted in thorough market research and analysis – after careful assessment of various factors, including demographic data, population growth, local economic conditions, competition and consumer behavior patterns. While being a big chain provides tremendous opportunity for us to offer our customers the most, we value our ability to “act small” and stay committed to being local, authentic and accessible. 

Moreover, community engagement plays a pivotal role — we actively seek feedback and insights from local communities to ensure that our expansion aligns with their needs and preferences.

PG: What are HGG’s future plans regarding expansion, retail concepts, new products/programs or anything else?

DS: When it comes to future plans, our team is always working toward what is best for Heritage Grocers Group and each community we operate in. We are constantly evaluating and testing new concepts and programs, researching new communities for development, and working toward ways to innovate and continue enhancing our product offerings, so that when the time is right, Heritage Grocers Group is already ahead of the curve. Whether this is with our e-commerce operations, our business and supply partnerships, brand development, or consumer insights relationships, we’re always focused on thinking big, so we can act small and remain focused on customer experience.

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