This Store Spotlight looks back pre-coronavirus to regional grocer H-E-B’s activation of its annual “TexFest” and the “Quest for Texas Best” contest. The regional chain is known for inspiring shopper devotion through an emphasis on Texas pride. Since H-E-B stores exist only in Texas and just across the border in Mexico, the Lone Star State is at the root of many of the retailer’s biggest programs as well as its cause efforts, store aesthetics, marketing materials and inventory decisions.
Its two-week TexFest event, corresponding with Texas Independence Day on March 2, is a perfect example. Running from Feb. 26 through March 10, TexFest 2020 showcased Texas-made products and partnerships using in-store “Go Local” price labels and TexFest signage. It also entailed sampling stations as well as “Texas-style events,” live music and special deals.
In stores, P-O-P materials for the program were numerous. The Path to Purchase Institute visited stores in Conroe, Buda and Universal City, Texas, during the promotional period. Here’s a glimpse of what stood out.
While TexFest concluded without a hitch before the pandemic hit the U.S., H-E-B’s annual “Quest for Texas Best” contest for local brands was affected. H-E-B extended its application deadline this spring from April 3 to May 31. It is also now accepting entries from Texas-based purveyors of apparel, beauty items, electronics, toys, home goods, gardening supplies, coolers and more in addition to food and beverage SKUs.
The winner and top finalists win the chance to negotiate distribution deals with the supermarket chain as well as a cash prize. These brands are small local businesses with modest marketing budgets, so winning H-E-B’s partnership is a huge opportunity for them.
Since the contest launched in 2014, H-E-B’s Quest for Texas Best has reviewed more than 3,800 samples of Texas-made food and beverages, offered shelf placement to more than 600 products, and awarded nearly $500,000 in prize money.
In liquor aisles, signage positioned the retailer as the “#1 beer & wine retailer in Texas” and plugged a main TexFest deal: 10% off state-based wines. A header near wine case stacks also touted a deal for 10% off the purchase of winners from the Houston Livestock and Rodeo wine competition,, which ran through March 24. Other in-store support spanned themed circular rack signs, ceiling signs, outdoor and indoor banners, window clings, shelf talkers and violators.
Cowboy boot-shaped signage promoting “Everythang Texas” filled stores, whether affixed to an endcap header or standing tall at entrances on a large corrugated standee.
H-E-B’s omnichannel approach helped it see TexFest through despite the looming pandemic. The retailer used a dedicated hub on HEB.com that detailed the program and its multiple facets, including Quest for Texas Best.
H-E-B launched an improved My H-E-B mobile app that offers shoppers easier ways to find and clip coupons, among other enhancements. A TexFest-themed email blast showcased “Texas-sized savings” redeemable through the app while also encouraging shoppers to look for the Go Local price labels in stores and scan an item’s bar code (also a recently added mobile capability) to find available coupons to clip.
Blue and red “Go Local” price labels identified local products, such as Mom’s pasta sauce. Many of the products highlighted during TexFest are from H-E-B’s private labels. The lineup also spans exclusives, including past winners and finalists of the retailer’s annual Quest for Texas Best competition, which finds the retailer’s next small, locally owned and new food, beverage or general merchandise items to spotlight as a “Primo Pick” and also runs in tandem with TexFest as a way to elevate those products.