Indian supermarkets attract multi-ethnic shoppers

With an ever-widening range of products, Indian supermarkets are beginning to attract multi-ethnic clients.

A number of them are on the path of expansion, establishing their presence in various parts of the country.

Moshims Discount House is the largest Indian supermarket chain in New Zealand, with its presence (either as an ‘own enterprise’ or as a franchise) in more than 20 centres. The Company, with a range of its own branded products, is present in almost every suburb in Auckland, apart from Wellington, Christchurch and other cities and towns.

Food 4 Less Supermarket is another well-known entity with its large stores in Otahuhu and New Lynn, respectively in South and West Auckland.

Yogiji’s Food Mart is also a popular retail store in Auckland and Christchurch, the latter damaged by the February 22 Earthquake.

Complimenting these supermarkets are well-established suppliers of quality products from India, Fiji and parts of Asia.

Supermarkets & Suppliers

Foremost among them are AB International, Arkh Food & Spices, Globex Import & Export Limited, Global Marketing & Distributors (NZ) Limited, Harnam Impex, Kwality Mini Bazaar, Service Foods Limited (Christchurch and Auckland) and South Sea Distributors.

The combined annual turnover of these companies is more than $80 million. Although small compared to the major players, their influence in the food, groceries and spices market is substantial and growing.

Not included in these are innumerable fruit and vegetable shops, superettes, dairies and convenience stores operating all over the country.

Indian supermarkets and supplier chains have the potential to grow and contribute a larger share to the New Zealand economy.

Their ability to source supplies either directly from manufacturers or from major importers and wholesalers and willingness to sell products at low prices are attracting an increasing number of shoppers not only from the Sub-Continent community but also from other ethnic groups.

About two years ago, a New Zealander shopping at one of the major supermarket chains would have been “attacked” by the massed battalions of the supermarket’s own labels, displaying products ranging from bread, dairy items and healthy food to spreads and hand wash liquid soap.

They were not exactly cheap stuff, but increasingly segmented into things like ready meals, “healthy” options or pricey treats. Confronting them were goods from branded manufacturers, which must pay for the privilege of appearing in the grocery department. And surrounding everything were shelves heaving with personal-care products, clothing, books and DVD recorders.

Even if you can resist the smell of fresh bread from the in-store bakery, other forms of psychological warfare would have enticed you to spend more than you intended. Dairy products, which most people buy regularly, tend to be lined up at the back of the store, so shoppers have to pass along the aisles where temptation can be put their way.

Indian businesses advance

Indian supermarket owners have become sophisticated in their approach and understand the significance of external marketing and point-of-sale display.

Positioning is everything: people typically spend at most a minute selecting a grocery item, and if they cannot find it, they would move on to something else. The best slots are at adult eye-level, so that is where relatively expensive products are put, often to the right of popular items (to increase the chances that right-handed shoppers will pick them up). Price is the deciding factor today and almost all shoppers leaving a supermarket can recall exactly what they paid for individual items.

Today, the average customer is sensitive to price increases and has a keen eye for goods that are sold at low prices.

According to Consumer Affairs, ordinary New Zealanders do not compromise quality but would certainly seek better value for money.

Which is why supermarkets owned and operated by people of Indian origin have registered impressive growth in a comparatively short time.

Many of these have become one-stop-shops for everyone’s daily need of fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, grocery, beverages, rice, wheat and a host of other items.

There are so many items on offer that all you need is a list of items that you would need for the week. You would easily find what you are looking for.

Branded goods

With so much choice, why don’t shoppers simply ignore brands and make a purely rational, economic decision about what to buy?

“Because that is not human nature,” says a marketing expert.

“Brands offer trust and they enable people to navigate through complex markets.” There is something in that. In the old Soviet Union, where all products were supposed to be the same, consumers learnt how to read barcodes as substitutes for brands in order to identify goods that came from reliable factories.

Consumer-goods companies invest in brands to convince supermarkets to stock their products and to get shoppers to buy them. To keep in touch with their customers, consumer-goods companies are shifting their spending away from traditional media, such as network TV and print, to other types of promotion.

These almost always include sampling on site at supermarkets.

Indian Supermarkets are gaining popularity among all ethnic groups in New Zealand. A view of Moshims Plaza (Mt Roskill) and Food 4 Less Supermarket in Otahuhu

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