In 1997, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. acquired a majority position in Mexico’s Cifra S.A. de C.V. retail operator, and in 2000 changed the name to Walmart de México.
Today, Walmart operates four retail brands in Mexico, two of which are honored on Interbrand’s Best Mexican Brands 2017 report:
Bodega Aurrera (#8), a discount chain in Mexico and Central America, offers basic merchandise, food and household items at low prices.
Superama (#14), a leading supermarket, offers a wide variety of pantry needs: fruits and vegetables, meats, seafood, grocery, wines and spirits, cleaning, home, hygiene and health.
Walmart, its namesake hypermarket stores, provides a wide assortment of merchandise, from groceries and fresh produce to apparel and general merchandise.
Sam’s Club was Walmart’s first store outside the United States, opening in Mexico City in 1991. The membership warehouse club focuses on small businesses and consumers with a variety of innovative and differentiated merchandise, and cutting-edge technology.
As a corporate entity, Walmart Mexico is committed to improving the communities where its associates and customers live and work. With assistance from the Walmart Mexico Foundation, Grupo Walmart supports four primary corporate citizenship pillars: fighting hunger, sustainable communities, volunteerism and natural disaster relief.
More than half its stores in Mexico are powered by wind and other clean energy sources thanks to continued investment in sustainable facility design.
For more insights on what it takes to be a leading brand, Interbrand Mexico Managing Director Isabel Blasco Ramos spoke with Antonio Ocaranza, Director, Corporate Communication at Walmart Mexico and Central America.
IBR: What makes Grupo Walmart in Mexico a powerhouse of leading brands, in your view?
AO: I think that the answer is related to our focus on our customers. We have to fulfill the expectations that customers have when they enter one of our stores, and I think that they are seeing that we accomplish and we try to do our best to fulfill their expectations.
IBR: And what are your doing differently in the market to differentiate you from competitors?
AO: One of the aspects that characterizes our brands is our focus on the consumer and our price differentiation. We seek to provide savings to our customers, and I think that customers realize that, especially in this time in Mexico of economic uncertainty or the desire to save for the other types of expenses that a family has, our focus on providing that type of savings distinguishes us.
We are also continuously investing in expansion and innovation. We continue to innovate in our designs, in new formats and in the way that we communicate to our customers, so that is a constant in our brands, and that’s how we are able to stay ahead of the competition.
IBR: What do you need to keep on doing to continue driving growth across your brands?
AO: We have to adapt to what the consumers are expecting, and one of that adaptation is related to e-commerce. Today our consumers want to buy wherever they are, through the different means that are available to them, at any time of day.
Our goal is to combine the physical settings of our stores with the availability of applications and mobile communications that exist today so that our consumers can either go to our store or purchase whatever they want through our e-commerce platforms, seamlessly.
That is our biggest challenge and our biggest opportunity for growth, and we’re very well-suited to be at the forefront of this transformation.
IBR: As you keep growing, what are your specific objectives?
AO: As we continue to grow, we are continuing to invest in Mexico—17 billion pesos this year alone. We will continue to build new stores and remodel existing ones, and invest in logistics and e-commerce. We continue to find opportunities to open stores where there are none of our formats, small communities where we are able to have the first self-service store in the community as well as expand in our presence in big cities with the different businesses that we have.
Secondly, investing in e-commerce continues to be a focus for us. In the same way that e-commerce businesses are moving to physical stores, our physical stores need to embrace e-commerce in a very rapid fashion, so that’s where we’re investing a lot. We are a leader in e-commerce in Mexico and already a force that our competitors will have to reckon with, because of our corporate decision to be present in the consumer’s life—everywhere.
IBR: And in this challenging context we are living in today, what are the potential barriers to growth?
AO: The confidence of consumers is one factor that we continue to follow. Fortunately, what the consumer sees in us is the opportunity to improve their lives, and when everyday is an economic challenge that the family is facing, they see us as an ally because we provide service.
We have a long-term perspective on the growth of our business in Mexico and Central America, and we invest every year a huge amount of money to continue to expand our presence. We don’t have any debt, so we reinvest our earnings in our expansion, and that’s driving the growth of our brands.
If you’re consistent, if you’re always willing to change, to improve and to innovate, the consumer recognizes and acknowledges that effort. That puts our brands always in a good place, and that is something that at the same time represents a major commitment on our part. We need to continue to make our brands top of mind for consumers.