Empório, which opened earlier this month, is not a pop-up store but a permanent space of 744 m² at the company's new headquarters in São Paulo.
The supermarket stocks more than 1,500 products from Nestle’s cross-category portfolio, including chocolate, culinary items, coffee, dairy, cereals, beverages, infant nutrition, and pet food.
It also stocks items from other brands such as L’Oréal, Roots to Go, Life Mix, Sodiê Doces, The Body Shop and TerraFertil (which was acquired by Nestle last year).
José Pereira Jr., Nestlé Brazil’s head of innovation told FoodNavigator-LATAM that Empório is a new retail concept for Nestlé.
“This is the first store in this format focused on consumer experience, with technology and innovation.
“[We] have always sought to understand and anticipate the changes, as well the evolutions that have been impacted people's behavior and lifestyle.”
According to Pereira, Empório goes beyond the traditional store to give consumers “a brand experience”.
Consumers can also buy online through the Empório website and then pick up their groceries at the store two hours later or – if the user lives within a 15-km radius of the São Paulo store - have them delivered.
“[This is] not just retail sales, it's a new form of the shopping experience,” Pereira said. “[It] is part of Nestlé's strategy to look for new ways to interact with the consumer and to know their preferences, through activations, tastings….”
“The Empório model in Brazil is innovative for Nestlé globally," he added. "The goal is to expand this retail format with experience and technology to the other locations where there is a Nestlé factory store in Brazil [initially].”
The Vevey, Switzerland-headquartered company partnered with supermarket delivery start-up Supermercado Now for the delivery service.
“Supermercado Now [was] one of the companies accelerated through the program Scale-Up Endeavor Food and Beverage, an initiative supported by Nestlé in Brazil to identify new scale-ups. The partnership was fundamental for the e-commerce project to be carried out.”
Supermercado Now, which delivers groceries within two hours of ordering or at a scheduled time, also works with retailers including Hirota, Chama, Madrid and SuperStore.
“The goal is to support companies with products and services that are shaping the future of food, either by creating the next generation of farm-to-table food or by producing organic foods, subscription meals and snacking,” he added.
‘A perfect fit’ for LATAM retail space
Jorge Lizan, managing director of Lizan Retail, a consultancy focused on the Latin American retail sector, said the Empório concept “fits
perfectly” with Latin American retail trends.
“Consumer goods brands such as beer and liquor do it all the time. For instance, Veuve Clicquot has a branded store in Panama City, [tequila manufacturer] Casa Dragones has a tasting venue in San Miguel de Allende and [rum-maker] Zacapa has one in Guatemala City.”
“These are mostly established brands [that] want to mostly make a statement and to keep growing their customers base,” he added.
Other multinationals have done it for one brand, such as Unilever’s Pleasure Store for its Magnum ice cream and PepsiCo for Quaker Oats.
Nestlé does not disclose sales data but Pereira said that e-commerce accounts for an increasing proportion of its sales. However, bricks-and-mortar retail outlets still account for the majority of its sales, he added.
Nestle first began manufacturing in Brazil in 1921 with its condensed milk brand, Milkmaid.
Today, Nestlé Brazil has 31 plants and industrial sites in the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Bahia, Pernambuco, Goiás, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul and Espírito Santo.
According to the Swiss manufacturer, it directly employs 20,000 individuals.