Case | HBS Case Collection | April 2012 (Revised February 2013)

H-E-B: Creating a Movement to Reduce Obesity in Texas

by Jose B. Alvarez, Jason Riis and Walter J. Salmon

Abstract

In January 2012, H-E-B Grocery Co., a private retail chain with stores located in Texas and Mexico, was introducing its Healthy at H-E-B program to its customers. The program, which started with the company's employees a few years earlier, was an effort to educate and inform customers on how to lead a healthier lifestyle. What CEO Craig Boyan had in mind was creating a state-wide healthy living movement in Texas, where obesity was high relative to other states in the U.S. But how far to go with its employees and customers was a question that President and COO Craig Boyan and his team struggled with. On one hand Boyan believed that H-E-B, long recognized for its community involvement, had a role to play in Texans' health and well-being. On the other hand, he recognized that H-E-B was first and foremost a retailer that had to compete against the likes of Walmart. He needed to make sure that H-E-B was serving its customers what they wanted while also trying to influence their buying behavior toward healthier foods. Some would say that H-E-B had no role in changing the lifestyle and food choices of its employees or customers. But Boyan and his team thought differently.

Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Profit; Leading Change; Customer Focus and Relationships; Food and Beverage Industry; Retail Industry; Texas;

Citation:

Alvarez, Jose B., Jason Riis, and Walter J. Salmon. "H-E-B: Creating a Movement to Reduce Obesity in Texas." Harvard Business School Case 512-034, April 2012. (Revised February 2013.)