People often are fond of their local grocery store chains. H-E-B is no exception. During Texas' recent winter storm and energy outage, H-E-B became even more beloved as it proactively helped the people of Texas in several different ways. When a busy H-E-B store in Leander, TX lost power, the store's staff let shoppers take their goods home with them without paying. H-E-B employees also handed out flowers to customers waiting outside in line. H-E-B donated $1 million of food to 18 food banks throughout the state. And it provided thirteen truckloads of water to the City of San Angelo to distribute to those still under active "do not use" water restrictions. It also cut power to non-essential parts of its business to help preserve the energy grid in Texas.
H-E-B has focused on community support in other ways as well. It created a donation campaign in its stores and online to help support "Feed Texas." And it delivered more than 80,000 "Meal Simple" meals to hospitals throughout the state. Some of this was an extension of what H-E-B was already doing to support Texans throughout the pandemic and even before then.
Stephen Harrigan, and novelist and journalist from Austin was quoted as saying, "It's like H-E-B is the moral center of Texas." The business editor of the San Antonio Express-News wrote, "We'd all be better off if H-E-B took over the Texas power grid." And it is very telling that Texans have worn t-shirts that say, "H-E-B for President."
Admittedly, much of H-E-B's disaster responsiveness has to do with its logistical prowess. In fact, H-E-B's effectiveness in this area reinforces the Texan notion of no nonsense, get-it-done competence and hard work. In that way, H-E-B's values align well with Texans' values, creating even more emotional connection between the brand and its customers.
H-E-B's community contributions over time, throughout the pandemic and during the most recent winter storm and energy outage crisis have reinforced its reputation as a local business that cares about the people of Texas and that can be relied on to look out for Texans' needs and their well-being, especially during crises.
All of this has led not only to increased goodwill and brand loyalty, but also to a huge amount of free publicity and word of mouth "buzz" throughout the state of Texas and the USA. Other brands would do well to take notes on what H-E-B has done and continues to do for people in the communities that it serves.