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Northgate Gonzalez Market Moves to Digital Circulars

Ideal by Design House solution aims to elevate customer experience
Dan Jones Northgate Markets Headshot
Northgate Gonzalez Market Storefront Main Image
Northgate began experimenting with its print circular program in 2021.

The first Northgate Market opened in 1980, and the family-owned business maintains traditions with a deep respect for its Mexican heritage. Today, the González family owns 43 stores and is a leading Mexican grocery chain in Southern California.

Northgate is a destination because we share our culture through authentic Mexican fare such as fresh shrimp from Mexico, tacos, carnitas and ceviche, and scratch-made tortillas using a process perfected over a thousand years. The keys to our continued growth and customer loyalty are steeped in our core values, including innovation and customer-centricity.

[Read more: "Multicultural Grocers Drive Sales by Catering to Increasingly Diverse America"]

Our customers are traditionally minded, but we know they enjoy the convenience and immediacy of using their smartphones for shopping, sharing recipes, watching videos, and more. In addition, we experienced disruptions in the newspaper and media industry, as well as the rising costs of paper and delivery. Most importantly, we could not measure the print circular’s return on investment (ROI). For these reasons, we began experimenting with our print circular program in 2021.

Introducing Northgate Mercado Digital Ad Platform

We introduced the Northgate Mercado Digital Promotion Platform to all of our stores in May 2021. Mercado is powered by Ideal by Design House, a dynamic digital circular with an intelligent omnichannel distribution system.

Ideal provides advanced analytics to measure store traffic driven from the circular and computes cost per visit. Finally, we could accurately demonstrate ROI on each store’s marketing programs.

Our Mercado digital advertising platform is a new and vibrant way to engage our customers, offering a compelling weekly ad experience. The digital circulars provide several new benefits that our conventional paper advertising couldn’t deliver, including:

  • Always-on Advertising: The digital circular is available 24/7 and can be constantly updated with new content.
  • Nimbleness: Northgate can react with little lead time to include new promotions like last-minute Weekend Specials.
  • Versatility: Rich video content promotes our differentiation and how we’re supporting our customers and communities.
  • Customization: Circulation can be adjusted by store and by week to adjust to local dynamics and various holidays or events.
  • Uniqueness: The solution sets Northgate apart from other grocery stores in the marketplace.

Culturally Relevant Brand Stories

Understanding the importance of culturally relevant ad promotions, Ideal is bilingual, detecting the language preference on mobile devices. The content engine spotlights behind-the-scenes storytelling, how-to videos, content sharing, etc. to level up customer experience, engagement and loyalty.

Our Mercado marketing platform enhances customer experience with personalized educational content. The hyperlocal dynamic media allows shoppers to connect with their neighborhood stores.

Ideal by Design House has given Northgate Market a platform to effectively tell our story. It has transformed our weekly promotion into an engaging experience for our customers. The solution enables us to be faster and more responsive to a dynamic competitive marketplace. It has truly been a game-changer for Northgate Market. 

Digital-First Transformation

Our test of the solution was a complete success. Thanks to our executives, managers and team members, we spread the word with our customers, and shoppers embraced the new digital circular. Not only did we grow our online sales, but store traffic and basket size increased. Over time, the Ideal algorithms have shown that Digital Mercado’s cost per store visit has declined, and we work each week to further optimize our promotion budget.

In addition to driving efficiency, performance dashboards demonstrate how Mercado is attracting new customers, including people who haven’t visited Northgate in 90 days. Digital Mercado results enable us to track customer performance among new shoppers and existing shoppers.

These outstanding results have allowed us to make the Digital Mercado our primary promotion channel with our customers. The distribution cost savings enable Northgate to create new and compelling content to better connect with our loyal customers and new-prospect shoppers.

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About the Author

Dan Jones

Dan Jones is senior director, strategic pricing and data integrity at Northgate Gonzalez Market. With more than 30 years of experience in the grocery and CPG industry, Jones has held roles in finance, sales and marketing for industry leaders such as Nestlé, Borden, Catalina and SymphonyAI. In 2019, Jones joined Anaheim, Calif.-based Northgate, where he currently leads pricing, analytics and e-commerce efforts.
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