Friday, April 25, 2008

Tesco's Fresh & Easy to Launch A Marketing-Oriented, Brand-Building Consumer Public Relations Campaign For its Store Brand Products and its Wines

Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market USA's small-format, convenience-oriented grocery store chain plans to launch a brand marketing-oriented public relations campaign designed to position and get publicity for its Fresh & Easy store brand fresh, prepared foods and grocery products and it's 60 varieties of specialty-blended wines, Fresh & Easy Buzz has learned.

The campaign will target the food and lifestyle sections of print and online newspapers and magazines, as well as other food-oriented consumer publications and blogs.

As we reported on March 17 (at the bottom of the linked page), Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market interviewed a number of public relations firms to assist the retailer with its marketing and corporate communications efforts for its 61 stores in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada.

One of the charges to these firms in terms of preparing their pitches to Fresh & Easy for its public relations business was to develop a plan to gain publicity for its Fresh & Easy store brand fresh food and grocery products and proprietary specialty-blended wines in consumer food and lifestyle-oriented sections and publications.

The goal of the brand marketing public relations campaign is to position the Fresh & Easy brand and the wines as quality yet affordable products for consumers, as well as to make the brands famous as a brand exercise. The buzz words or message Fresh & Easy hopes to convey for its store brand food and grocery products and wines in its consumer brand marketing public relations campaign are essentially: fresh, high quality, low price.

As we reported on April 13, Fresh & Easy has chosen a new public relations firm of record from those it interviewed in March.

That PR firm will launch the brand building public relations campaign along with Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's in-house marketing and PR team.

Fresh & Easy is generally pleased with the amount of press it's obtained in the business sections of U.S. newspapers and in specialty business publications, we've learned. However, the retailer hasn't been able to get much if any press in the consumer food and lifestyle sections or publications, which is why in part it launched its search for an outside public relations firm with media connections in the Western U.S. to assist in these efforts.

Fresh & Easy stores offer an extensive selection of fresh, prepared ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat foods in its 10,000 square foot combined basic grocery, fresh and specialty foods format grocery markets. The prepared foods were created by a professional chef and are produced in a large commercial kitchen at the grocery chain's 88-acre distribution center in Riverside, California and then delivered to the stores.

The grocery chain also merchandises a wide-variety of Fresh & Easy brand grocery products across all categories, ranging from eggs and pasta sauces, to packaged dry grocery items and more. In fact, about 65% of all the products in the Fresh & Easy grocery stores are under the Fresh & Easy store brand.

Fresh & Easy stores also carry about 60 varieties of the chain's own specialty-blended wines, in addition to other brands and varieties. In addition, Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market employs a Master of Wine, of which there are only 250 in the world, and only 20 -to- 25 currently working in the U.S.

Fresh & Easy has already won awards for its proprietary specialty-blended wines, including a couple of Silver and a number of Bronze medals at the California State Fair Wine Judging Competition and the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, last year and this year.

It appears Fresh & Easy is taking a page out of specialty grocer Trader Joe's product marketing playbook for its store brand food and grocery products and wine selection. Trader Joe's has built its various store brand food and grocery products and its extensive wine selection--including its famous "Two Buck Chuck" Charles Shaw proprietary wine brand--through brand-building public relations or "free media" campaigns rather than through advertising.

Trader Joe's has numerous store or private label grocery product brands. Much of the success of these brands, in addition to their quality, is based on the humorous and quirky-sounding names ( the specialty grocer gives to them. Not only do such quirky names draw consumer attention, but the attention of the consumer food and lifestyle press as well.

Additionally, Trader Joe's has become famous for its extensive selection of affordably-priced domestic and imported wines (and craft beers). In fact, its $1.99 per-bottle Charles Shaw brand ("Two Buck Chuck") won the top honors (a Double Gold medal), beating out wines priced more than ten-times as much, in that very same California State Fair Wine Judging mentioned above.

Since Tesco has positioned its Fresh & Easy stores as a combination discount, basic grocery store and fresh and specialty foods' market, it should be interesting to see if the retailer can build brand using the marketing-oriented public relations campaign.

Generally speaking, such brand-building efforts usually work best for specialty retailers like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods Market, Bristol Farms and others.

From a positioning standpoint, Fresh & Easy has to be careful such a campaign doesn't negate its positioning as a discount, neighborhood grocery store for the masses.

For example, if the consumer food pages publicize the Fresh & Easy brand food and grocery products as upscale or too premium, that could seriously damage the stores everyday low price basic grocery shopping positioning.

On the other hand, the Fresh & Easy brand has absolutely zero brand equity in the marketplace, since it was just introduced when the first stores opened in November, 2007. The only consumer awareness the brand has received to date basically is from shoppers going into the stores and seeing it on the shelves.

As such, the brand is in need of publicity and consumer awareness. A well-planned and executed consumer brand marketing public relations campaign can pay major dividends as well as create awareness among consumers who haven't yet been into a Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market small-format, convenience-oriented grocery store.

Remember, if and when you start seeing stories about Fresh & Easy brand food and grocery products and the grocer's proprietary specialty-blended wines begin to appear in the food and lifestyle sections of print and online newspapers, and in other consumer food-oriented publications, you read it hear on Fresh & Easy Buzz first.

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