Chains such as McDonald’s, Blockbuster and Wal-Mart were built on their cookie-cutter concepts serving the mass market. Consumers could count on pretty much the same service and the same products whether the store is.
But looking for ways to increase sales, many retailers and restaurant chains are taking a cue from locally owned shops and customizing their merchandise to better cater to particular communities.
While the chains are listening to feedback from their employees on the front line, just like the mom-and-pops, they also have the technology to track what products are selling most, and can tweak their inventory accordingly. They still serve their core customers, but they also increase sales by adding customers looking for more specific items.
Wal-Mart, for example, strives to be a “store of the community,” whether that community is heavily Jewish, African-American or otherwise.
“Customers often like to buy the brands they grew up on, so Wal-Mart offers Asian, German, Indian and Puerto Rican brands in some stores,” said a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart.
While a Wal-Mart store in Monticello, N.Y., carries some kosher items year-round for area residents, during the summer when Jewish recreational camps are full, the store brings in more than a thousand additional kosher items to fill an entire aisle.