Establishing a particular niche within any crowded marketplace is essential for any emerging business, but this maxim of modern commerce is especially relevant in the supermarket grocery store industry, where brand loyalty and regional affinities play such a significant role in the choices made by individual consumers. The rising prevalence of online shopping, expansion by big-box wholesalers, and increasing incursions by newcomers Wal-Mart and Target are all factors which have combined to fracture the traditional economy for large grocers. One grocery store chain which recognized these crucial truths early in its development and adapted to position itself for lasting success is Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., a regional powerhouse in the Northeastern part of the United States that grew from humble beginnings to dominate the supermarket industry nearly a century after it was founded. A family-owned business, Wegmans adheres to a specific set of core values which guide its policymaking, and this company-wide commitment to honoring the principles of its originators, John and Walter Wegman. This commitment to social responsibility was made clear to customers in 2008, when Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman announced that the company “will become one of the first local supermarket chains to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products” (Fink, 2008), thus cementing the grocer’s reputation as a purveyor of wholesome, quality products. By refusing to remain beholden to profit margins while selling products that are known to be harmful to human health, Wegmans chose the welfare of its shoppers over the allure of increased revenues.
According to a recent profile by Forbes magazine, which ranked Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. As one of the nation’s privately held companies, “the largest grocery store chain in western and central New York State, with additional stores located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia & #8230; was one of the first supermarkets to introduce in-store child play centers, photo labs and pharmacies” (Reifman & Wong, 2011). This innovative addition to the normal grocery store routine proved to be a rousing success with weary parents, allowing adults to do their weekly shopping in peace while their children are occupied in a safe and convenient manner. By continually approaching actual customers for firsthand feedback, through online surveys and employee interaction, Wegmans has displayed an uncanny ability to anticipate the needs of its consumer base and respond accordingly.
The owners of Wegmans also treat their employees like family, and as their website proudly proclaims the store “has won dozens of awards and distinctions for making the shopping experience better, and for treating customers, employees, and communities in an exemplary manner” (2011). Numerous publications from Fortune to Working Mothers have named Wegmans to various incarnations of their “top places to work in America” lists, citing the company’s progressive attitudes toward workplace diversity, highly competitive wages, and the chain’s successful run of regional expansion throughout the years. With nearly 35,000 employees throughout the Northeast, Wegmans stands as the most popular grocer in its area, and this reputation is based in large part on the company’s status as a loyal and lasting source of local employment.
Fink, J. (2008, January 04). Wegmans ceasing tobacco sales. Baltimore Business Journal. Retrieved from http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/stories/2007/12/31/daily30.html
Reifman, S. & Wong, S.N. (2005, November 11). America’s largest private companies: Wegmans food markets, inc. Forbes, Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/lists/2005/21/htm/filter.html?sort=1
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. (2012, July 14). Making a difference in our community. Retrieved from http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?storeId=10052&c atalogId=10002&langId=-1&identifier=CATEGORY_532
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. (2011, September 03). Points of Pride. Retrieved from http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10052&ca talogId=10002&langId=-1&partNumber=UNIVERSAL_3407
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