Merchandising Features / Trend Features

A Big Impact

October 4, 2012
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Giant Food is a key destination for many shoppers.
Operators are emphasizing price, quality and store brands.
The chain faces strong competition from speciality and value-oriented operators.

Giant is more than just a name for a major mid-Atlantic supermarket retailer;

it also signifies the chain’s standing in shoppers’ eyes.

That was the revelation from a March national online survey of more than 6,000 consumers conducted by Market Force Information Inc., a Louisville, Colo.-based customer information firm. Landover, Md.-based Giant Food was listed as shoppers’ favorite grocery store.

Next in the ranking of favorites were Keasbey, N.J.-based ShopRite Supermarkets Inc., Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets Inc., and Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco Wholesale Inc.

Janet Eden-Harris, Market Force chief marketing officer and senior vice president of strategy, says that though the most raw votes went to Wal-Mart and Cincinnati-based The Kroger Co.—which are much larger than Giant—Giant prevailed when the chains were indexed by size.

Consumers in the survey were asked to rank retailers on such attributes as pricing, cleanliness, customer service, meat and produce quality, atmosphere and sustainable practices.

Giant was not the leader in any specific category, but had the highest overall marks.

Owned by Amsterdam-based Ahold, which has more than 3,000 stores in Europe and the U.S., Giant Food LLC, is operated by Quincy, Mass.-based Ahold USA’s Giant Landover division and has 173 stores in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia.

The chain has been operating more than 75 years and remains an active merchandiser.

One of Giant’s recent initiatives was “Project Refresh,” a program to remodel or replace more than 100 stores throughout northern Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

Completed last year, features include enhanced produce departments, full-service meat and seafood sections, large service delis with a wide variety of prepared foods, and extensive varieties of natural and organic foods.

While such elements are positioning the chain for growth, price and quality also are highly visible competitive strategies.

A Giant store in Springfield, Va., near Washington, D.C., for instance, has signage throughout the location spotlighting the chain’s “Double Money Back Guarantee,” in which outlets will double the money back of customers who are not satisfied with their purchase of Giant-branded selections, including meat, produce, deli foods, seafood, bakery items and dairy products.

The signs include photos of plated meals, such as frozen seafood, along with package images.

An emphasis on price, meanwhile, is evident at the self-service meat case, where dividers—with the message “Big Buys. Buy Big. Save Big, Everyday”—tout the potential savings from purchasing “value packs,” which feature larger amounts of proteins.

Signage above perishables cases—and in other departments—also promote the savings from using loyalty cards for purchases.

In addition, the retailer is positioning a wide array of private-label items as competitive differentiators.

Giant-branded products in the frozen cases, for instance, include fruit bars, orange juice, waffles, pancakes, fruit, yogurt, ice cream, French toast sticks, garlic bread, lasagna, pizza, soft pretzels, egg rolls, spring rolls, macaroni and cheese bites, jalapeno bites, French fries, tater tots and hash browns.

There also are about a dozen selections of frozen Giant-branded seafood, including jumbo butterfly shrimp, haddock, tuna, cod, flounder, barramundi, salmon, mahi mahi, cooked shrimp and raw shrimp.

Among the store-branded items in the meat case are value-added proteins in modified atmosphere packaging.

Offerings include beef patties in such varieties as Cheddar & Bacon; Cheese, Pepper & Onion; and Swiss Cheese & Portabella, as well as beef sliders with Cheddar & Bacon.

Another prominent store brand, Nature’s Promise, consists of natural and organic products.

Items include cheese, milk, tortillas, sweet Italian pork sausage, frozen bagels, frozen organic fruit and organic chicken.

Ahold USA has a private-label support organization that focuses on adding new products and which has developed new packaging to unify the brands.

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Recent Articles by Rich Mitchell - Perishables Buyer

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