Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Perhaps Tesco's Fresh & Easy Did 'Listen' To Natural~Specialty Foods Memo's Analysis and Suggestions in it's Retail Marketing and PR Memo

Last Wednesday, April 2, we wrote this brief piece with a link to a "Retail Marketing & Public Relations Memo" the publication Natural~Specialty Foods Memo wrote that day regarding Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's corporate blog announcement by marketing chief Simon Uwins that the retailer was taking a three month new store opening pause or hiatus.

Below is what we wrote on April 2, 2008 as an intro to the Natural~Specialty Foods Memo Retail Marketing and PR Memo story link (the original story from the food and grocery industry publication is linked in our April 2 post as well below):

A Retail Marketing and Public Relations Memo to Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Management From Natural~Specialty Foods Memo
by Fresh & Easy Buzz: April 2, 2008

The food and grocery industry publication Natural~Specialty Foods Memo has a 'Retail Marketing and Public Relations Memo' to Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market senior management in today's issue.

The "memo," titled: "Retail Marketing and Public Relations Memo: What Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Should Be Doing Now," talks about the current new store opening "pause" which we reported here on Saturday.

In the piece, the publication discusses the marketing, public relations and overall implications of the announcement as part of an total retail strategy. The piece also suggests Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market should have prepared for the mostly negative press reports which started coming out yesterday and today in numerous U.S. newspaper business sections, such as the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Associated Press news service and others.

Natural~Specialty Foods Memo offers Fresh & Easy a strategic blueprint of how it could have prepared a strategic operations and media marketing strategy before posting the "pause" announcement in its corporate blog, including suggestions for how to not only deal with but also get on top of the news cycle. The piece also says any marketing and public relations strategy must be real and integrated with overall operations.

In fact, the marketing and public relations strategies would be good for Fresh & Easy anytime.

But they are especially important now, as it appears to us the retailer wasn't prepared for the mostly negative media coverage it's getting over the new store opening moratorium, along with the reports from analysts like us and others about the small-format, convenience-oriented grocery stores' sales underperformance to date, which these newspaper business section reporters and editors are including in their stories.

Lastly, the piece says "it's not too late" for Tesco to employ these strategies, if "Fresh & Easy senior management can be a fast-moving and nimble team."

Read the 'Retail Marketing and Public Relations Memo' to Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market from Natural~Specialty Foods Memo here.


Fresh & Easy Buzz: Yesterday (April 8, 2008), we received the Tesco Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market corporate press release reproduced below from the PRNewswire news release service, as did many other publications of all types:

Fresh & Easy to Give Away Free 'Bag For Life' For Earth Day

Grocer offers free reusable bags on April 22nd

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., April 8, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- In celebration of Earth Day, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market today announced its 61 stores will bag groceries with free reusable "bags for life" for customers on April 22nd. The company encourages customers to reuse these bags and lessen their impact on the environment.

Fresh & Easy offers its customers two different types of reusable bags, including a $2.50 canvas bag and a plastic reusable "bag for life," which retails for $.20. The "bag for life" is larger and more durable than standard grocery bag and, if damaged, Fresh & Easy will replace the bag for free, forever. These bags are made with recycled material and are 100% recyclable.

"We want to make it easier for our customers to make more environmentally friendly decisions," said Tim Mason, Fresh & Easy CEO. "If everyone in the neighborhood shops with reusable bags, we can really make a difference."

Fresh & Easy has made a considerable effort to be a good neighbor and steward of the environment. For example, the company only sells energy efficient light bulbs, uses LED lighting in external signs and freezer cases, offers plastic, aluminum and glass recycling, and provides preferred parking for hybrid vehicles.

More broadly, Fresh & Easy has committed to build LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings and voluntarily joined the California Climate Action Registry to disclose its greenhouse gas emissions. At its distribution center in Riverside the company invested $13 million in a solar roof installation, which is one of California's largest at 500,000 sq. ft.

More information regarding Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market can be found at


Fresh & Easy Buzz: Finally, here is a link to a piece Natural~Specialty Foods Memo published yesterday (April 8, 2008) titled: "Retail Marketing & Public Relations Memo: Was Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Listening to Our April 2 Memo?"


Below are the key paragraphs in the Natural~Specialty Foods Memo piece linked above. However, we suggest you click on this link and read the entire piece from the food and grocery industry publication so you can understand the complete context, as well as get the full flavor of the key paragraphs reproduced below:

But, if we were in charge we wouldn't have stopped there in our pre-publishing of the "pause" strategy, for the post-pause news cycle period.

April 22, just two weeks away, is Earth Day.

Numerous grocery retailers, manufacturers and marketers are planning major Earth Day green marketing or green retailing promotions and activities for the day which celebrates the earth, conservation and environmental stewardship. We haven't heard of any plans for Earth Day from Tesco's Fresh & Easy.

Our second, "locked-and-loaded" post-pause corporate blog post news peg would have been tied to Earth Day. For example, why not an announcement from Fresh & Easy that it plans to give away thousands of free, reusable, canvass grocery tote bags at its 59 stores on Earth Day.


Fresh & Easy Buzz: Our Observation: Well, to answer the question Natural~Specialty Foods Memo poses in the title of its piece yesterday---yes, it does seem that somebody at Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market was 'listening' to the April 2, 2008 memo. Of course, we don't know that for sure.

Further, as we write on Fresh & Easy Buzz regularly, it's our analysis that Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market needs to get out in front of a whole host of issues which are appearing daily in the press.

These include: the Fresh & Easy grocery stores sales underperformance, comments from fresh foods' industry suppliers and others that they are being cut out of the loop (and business) because Tesco imported three United Kingdom-based fresh foods companies to handle its business in the U.S. rather than using local companies, the press report we've reported on from the San Jose Mercury News about Tesco' selling of out-of-code and/or spoiled foods in a few UK stores (which happened some time ago), and a number of other issues.

By getting "out in front" of these issues, we don't just mean writing and sending press releases and statements (although that's not even being done strategically or often) to media outlets, or making comments when reporters call.

Rather, we mean developing and implementing a strategic plan--like Natural~Specialty Foods Memo outlined in its April 2, 2008 piece--and really addressing each one of these issues, which in some cases will mean admitting mistakes and changing policy. As we all know, strategy, policy and tactics aren't the same thing.

Personally, Fresh & Easy Buzz doesn't care if Tesco does this or not. We have no dog in it in any way shape or form; except that we cover, analyze and write about Tesco, Fresh & Easy and related grocery industry issues and developments here on the blog.

However, as close observers of Tesco and its Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market USA retail grocery venture, and having many years experience in the industry and related areas, we can't have helped wondering what's been going on in many ways at the USA branch of one of the world's foremost retailers in the areas of operations, marketing, merchandising, public relations, and a couple other areas.

As a result, we offer analysis, research-based insight, the analysis and opinions of others, consumer comments (positive and negative), and our commentary tied-in to all of the above as we see fit.

That's all for now...but the story continues.

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