FamilyMart is one of the biggest convenience store brands in Japan, and the only homegrown one among the top three in the country. Owing to its wider network, especially in Asia—such as China, Taiwan and Vietnam—it is also now the second largest in the world, and the Philippine market is seen to play a continuing role in this growing success.
With Davao businessman Dennis Uy’s Phoenix Petroleum completing a buyout of Philippine FamilyMart CVS Inc. (PFM)just last year as part of the company’s strategic growth and expansion into relevant sectors and market segments, FamilyMart is revitalized and re-energized—poised to strengthen its own niche in the local convenience store sector.
“We are aiming to be more relevant to the market we believe needs to be served,” says PFM general manager Bernard Suiza. That market is a new category that FamilyMart would like to count itself in, which it has dubbed “convenience food retailing.” It seeks to cater to the demographic of extremely busy urbanites who end up eating daily meals outside of the home—from breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to the snacks in between. An increasing number of city dwellers are also opting for transitory homes within the metro, such as dorms and apartments, and they are seeking alternative and better food establishments for daily sustenance.
Pivot to food
While still making other everyday offerings easily available, FamilyMart has zoomed in on food. This is being more faithful to the role that the brand plays in its strong markets such as Japan, where commuters treat convenience stores or “konbini” as a haven for daily sustenance. “This is the pivot to food that we are embarking on here in the Philippines—going back to the essence of what ‘konbini’ is, which is hearty, home-cooked meals,” explains Suiza. He articulates this strategy as “ready to eat, ready to heat, take and bake” food.
This entails a stronger focus on edible items in terms of variety, flavor, as well as quality. Thus, an integral part to achieving this is having a hot kitchen in each FamilyMart store. Such feature sets FamilyMart apart from other convenience stores and the usual food that they offer. “Our hot meals are served freshly cooked and prepared,” notes Suiza. While they will also offer ready-to-eat or microwaveable meals, fresh meals will be a trademark that FamilyMart hopes will create and sustain loyal following.
This strategy also means FamilyMart will be focusing on key urban areas in the Philippines where there are dense populations of BPO employees, office workers, condo dwellers, and other similar types of urbanites. As such, its concentration of stores will be in areas such as Makati, Bonifacio Global City and Quezon City. According to Suiza, they are currently embarking on expansion in these areas. In fact, the
largest FamilyMart branch in the whole world will also be inaugurated in Manila soon—a 400-square-meter store at the ground level of the new UDENNA Tower in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
Authentic “konbini” experience
Aiming to be a daily sanctuary for Filipinos, FamilyMart stores in the Philippines are undergoing a facelift by way of a more youthful, vibrant and engaging design. The food counter will naturally be the central area of the retail space, and its menu will ensure that there is an exciting variety of authentic Japanese cuisine, as well as Filipino favorites.
PFM is working closely with FamilyMart Japan for research and development (R&D) of the menu and offerings. Also coming into play is valuable synergy with other business units within PFM’s parent group, Udenna. Well-loved Filipino restaurant brand Conti’s will provide expertise in commissary production of meals, while Chelsea Logistics through its wholly owned affiliate Worklink will provide vital supply chain support.
Little but thoughtful touches will make the Japanese “konbini” experience even stronger. The trademark entrance chime of FamilyMart stores in Japan, for instance, will soon be played in its Philippine counterparts. Its international best-selling Famichiky breaded chicken fillet has also been slowly introduced to the local market, gradually gaining cult following among Filipino foodies.
Further making the case for a stronger food and drink line-up, and in line with the booming beverage market, Suiza adds that FamilyMart will soon be launching its own signature brewed coffee blend in partnership with another iconic Japanese brand, UCC.
All these improvements aim to make the local FamilyMart experience more distinct and memorable; true to the authentic Japanese experience of “konbini” while offering the daily conveniences that today’s generation of discerning Filipino consumers want and deserve.