Supplier Diversity Momentum Builds Across Multiple Retail Operations
UNITED STATES - If you’ve been following along with us here at AndNowUKnow, you’ll have noticed the influx of stories regarding retailers hunting for new suppliers in the recent weeks. This drive from the buy-side for supplier diversity has captured our attention, leading us to consider multiple questions. What does this mean for smaller operations looking to gain a foothold in big-box stores? Where does the onus for product and supplier diversity lie?
Although it’s far too early to assess such questions, I think it’s telling that we’re asking them at all.
In the span of five weeks, Harris Teeter, H-E-B, Schnuck Markets, and Meijer have announced commitments to diversify their product offerings. Many of these announcements came with the promise of “supplier summits,” as buyers invite companies to submit applications for vendor relationships.
Harris Teeter, for example, is hosting its Supplier Diversity Summit in May—and fresh produce is a category included in the search. Less in focus is the search for local products, but the retailer is ramping up its commitment to foster new relationships with suppliers underrepresented in the food world: those who are minority-owned, military veterans, or LGBTQ+, to name a few. This speaks to another one of Harris Teeter’s value propositions—that it is making inclusion and diversity a top priority for its product range.
Giant Food also took a similar step in December of last year, implementing new shelf labels to laser in on minority-owned businesses.
H-E-B is running with the local approach, and for a retailer heavily entrenched in Texas culture, I’d say this strategy is a sound one. H-E-B’s Quest for Texas Best has been around since 2014, but has allowed the retailer to create unique vendor relationships spotlighting the very region in which its shoppers come from.
Both Schnuck Markets and Meijer are taking similar approaches to local fare.
Seeing local suppliers as a way to further connect with its clientele, Schnucks emphasizes local in a way that tugs on shoppers’ emotions. Playing word association with local would probably conjure up phrases like “found in my backyard” or “a neighborhood gem.” It evokes interrelation and attachment—and I think it’s a smart marketing move.
For Meijer, it is doubling down on this by calling for “hyperlocal” products, all at one of its small-format stores. Helping local businesses succeed is top of the list, but the retailer also wants to showcase what the city itself has to offer.
All of these efforts are geared toward diversifying vendor relationships. Will this help smaller scale companies snag a bit of market share?
These major moves to increase supplier diversity are exciting to watch, and you know we here at ANUK will be ready to report on what comes next.