- H-E-B will sell another round of special-edition reusable tote bag featuring images of the late Mexican-American singer Selena Quintanilla, after the first run sold out within a few hours – and in some stores within minutes – this past spring.
- The bags, which retailed in March for $2, will be available at all H-E-B, H-E-B plus!, Joe V's and Mi Tienda stores on December 6. The grocer created a dedicated site for fans to track updates on the release and opportunities to purchase one online.
- H-E-B hasn’t announced how many bags would be available this time around, but in a statement to MySanAntonio.com, spokesperson Julie Bedingfield said, “H-E-B is always working to create the best in-store shopping experience for our customers. We expect this to be a very popular item, and is a limited-edition bag, but more will be available to our customers this time around.”
It's hard to imagine a grocer generating excitement on par with a new iPhone release, but that's just what H-E-B managed earlier this year with its limited edition Selena bags. Shoppers lined up hours before stores opened only to find out the bags were already sold out. The internet wasn’t much kinder. The bags were available online at noon that day and the store’s website crashed soon after that. Many bags ended up selling for hundreds of dollars on eBay.
The promotion has been a bit of a mixed bag for H-E-B. It's no doubt pleased with the high level of interest and the opportunity to draw new customers into its stores — particularly the many Hispanic consumers that H-E-B is perpetually trying to win over from competing chains like La Michoacana and El Rancho Supermarcado. But it doesn't want shoppers to come away disappointed, as many were (and took to social media to broadcast their feelings).
H-E-B says it's ready to meet demand this time around, and given the grocer's track record, it's hard to doubt this. Currently, there are nearly 500 comments on H-E-B’s Facebook page. Most of them praise the new release, but also caution against disappointing customers again.
Aside from being something of a cautionary tale, H-E-B's bag promotion is an example of a retailer listening to customers. It also shows grocers the potential to turn reusable bags into must-have pieces. Custom bags are a great way for a store to get its customers excited and for them to feel like part of a community. Last month, Fresh Thyme launched a line of bags that showcase the six states where their stores are operated – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Natural Grocers, meanwhile, is selling Lotus Trolley bags in their stores.
Moves like this by H-E-B and other grocers are a sign of understanding not only what customers want from their grocer, but also that the brand cares about the same things they do. Judging from H-E-B’s continual high customer satisfaction rating, they’re building a community that works.