Monday, March 30, 2009

Store Brand - Private Label Memo: 'Big Score' At 'Big Y' Chain For Safeway's 'Eating Right' Healthy Foods Brand

Retailer Store Brands: Special Report

The family-owned, Springfield, Massachusetts-based Big Y supermarket chain is the first major food and grocery retailer in the U.S. to introduce and carry at least one of the two Safeway Stores, Inc. organic and healthy foods store brands -- "O' Organics" and "Eating Right" -- that the Pleasanton, California-based supermarket chain began marketing to other U.S. grocery retailers and wholesalers through its Lucerne Foods Inc. brands division last year, in its stores.

In Big Y's case, the popular supermarket chain is introducing numerous "Eating Right" brand healthy food and grocery items across multiple categories in its stores in New England.

Privately-held Big Y, which was founded in 1936 by Paul and Gerald D'Amour and was named after an intersection in Chicopee, Massachusetts where two roads converge to form a Y, currently operates 57 high volume supermarkets located in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Among the Safeway Stores, Inc. "Eating Right" healthy food products being introduced this week at Big Y include: frozen entrees; cereal; soups; pasta; salad dressings; snack bars; cookies; and items in numerous other dry grocery and perishable categories, according to Carrie Taylor, Big Y's corporate dietitian, who's in charge of the supermarket chain's "Living Well Eating Smart" chainwide healthy foods program.

"With healthier eating a priority for many of our customers, we are pleased to bring new options to our shelves with the introduction of the 'Eating Right' brand at Big Y stores," Ms. Taylor says. "Our shoppers have long relied on us to meet all of their supermarket needs and with 'Eating Right' we're able to offer a great selection of functional and tasty products designed to help our customers reach their specific health objectives."

Safeway Stores Inc.'s Lucerne Foods, Inc. brand marketing division is handling the marketing of the "O 'Organics" and "Eating Right" brands to supermarket chains and wholesale grocers in the U.S. and globally.

There are currently 225 SKUS in 20 categories under the "Eating Right" brand, according to Alex Petrov, president of Safeway Stores' Lucerne Foods Inc. division.

Neither Big Y supermarkets nor Safeway Stores, Inc. is touting the fact that the "Eating Right" brand being introduced in the 57 Big Y supermarkets in Massachusetts and Connecticut is produced, owned and marketed by Safeway Stores, including the fact that the brand is a Safeway healthy foods store brand. Both are handling the introduction and marketing of the brand just as they would any other brand, regardless of its origin or ownership.

That's also why the marketing of the "Eating Right" brand to grocers like Big Y is being conducted by Safeway's Lucerne Foods Inc. division as a separate function from the store brand merchandising and marketing of the brand (and of "O' Organics") in Safeway's about 1,750 supermarkets in the U.S. and Canada. Safeway Stores, Inc. strategically views the brands not just as store brands, but as what the company hopes will become standalone organic and healthy food brands both in the U.S. and globally in the future.

Safeway doesn't operate any supermarkets in the New England states of Massachusetts or Connecticut where Big Y has its 57 supermarkets.

The closest states where Safeway has stores are in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virgina.

This is an important distinction because in Big Y's case its customer base won't in most cases even be aware that the "Eating Right" brand items are a Safeway store brand, since there are no Safeway-owned supermarkets in the two states.

Our analysis is that Safeway will need to use this type of strategy to launch the two brands in the U.S., focusing on regional chains like Big Y which operate in markets where Safeway does not have a retailing presence.

For example, we don't see many retailers in the Western U.S., where Safeway is a major player and in many markets is the market share leader, carrying the "O Organics" and "Eating Right" brands because with little exception every retailer in the Western U.S. is a competitor of Safeway's.

Major competitor's like Kroger Co, Supervalue, Inc., Wal-Mart and Costco have their own organic and healthy store brands and aren't going to offer the store brands of a major competitor in their respective stores.

Major regional chains throughout the west also in many cases either have their own organic and healthy foods store brands or carry such private label brands through arrangements with a wholesaler. Additionally, since these regional chains are direct competitors with Safeway in states like California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Arizona and the like, they won't in all probability offer Safeway's "Eating Right" or "O Organics" store brands on their respective shelves either. It makes little sense for these chains to compete with Safeway on the brands.

We believe this will hold true in other parts of the U.S. where Safeway has a retail presence like the Washington D.C./Maryland/Virgina tri-state market region, Texas, Florida, Illinois-Indiana and Alaska, in addition to the Western U.S.

As a result, that's why we believe Safeway will have to conduct a niche retailer strategy, placing its "O Organics" and "Eating Right" brands in non-competitive, select chains primarily in parts of the U.S. where it isn't a retail player.

Natural~Specialty Foods Memo (NSFM) was one of the first, if not the very first, publication to report that Safeway Stores, Inc. was marketing its "O Organics" brand to another retailer, France's Carrefour (the world's third-largest global retailer) internationally, in the three stories from December, 2007, and the January 8, 2008 piece, linked below:

~December 27, 2007: Marketing Memo: Safeway's O' Organics Brand in Asia
~December 23, 2007: Safeway's O' Organics Brand: Part Duex
~December 21, 2007: Friday Fishwrap: Safeway's O' Organics Brand
~January 8, 2008: Media Memo: Safeway's O' Organics Brand In Asia

In April of 2008, we first reported in this piece [April 28, 2008: Marketing Memo: Safeway Stores, Inc. to Market its 'O' Organics' and 'Eating Right' Organic and Healthy Brands to Other Retailers in U.S. and Globally] about Safeway's corporate plans to market its "O 'Organics" and "Eating Right" brands to other supermarket chains in the U.S.

Linked below are four related past pieces on the topic from Natural~Specialty Foods Memo (NSFM):

~August 6, 2008: Marketing Memo: Safeway's Challenge: Going From Store Brand Marketer to Consumer Brand Marketer With its O' Organics and Eating Right Brands
~April 28, 2008: Marketing Memo: Safeway Stores, Inc. to Market its 'O' Organics' and 'Eating Right' Organic and Healthy Brands to Other Retailers in U.S. and Globally
~April 28, 2008: Retail Memo: Safeway CEO Burd Says Shoppers Buying Store Brands Over National Brands By As Much As Six -to- One in it's North American Supermarkets

Safeway's Lucern Foods, Inc. division isn't confirming or not confirming, but based on our reporting, sources and research, Springfield, Massachusetts-based Big Y appears to be the first U.S. supermarket chain that's agreed to carry one of the two Safeway brands, "O Organics" and "Eating Right." In Big Y's case, it's carrying the "Eating Right brand" only at present.

Big Y is a popular, high volume retailer in New England. As a result, landing the chain is a major niche retailer score for Safeway and its "Eating Right" brand, in our analysis.

Big Y also is a well-known regional chain in the trade. Safeway's landing of the chain for its "Eating Right" brand should create greater interest in the brand from similar retail chains in other parts of the U.S., particularly in market regions where Safeway doesn't operate supermarkets in.

We expect to see at least two more regional chains in the U.S. announce their respective plans to carry either just the "Eating Right" healthy foods brand or both the "Eating Right" and "O' Organics" brands from Safeway in the next couple months.

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1 comment: said...

Can't tell you how much I enjoy the "Eating Right" breakfast cereals - cost of "Total" drove me to try your brand and it is far superior! Thanks for such a fine product - this active senior citizen appreciates good products!