Friday, May 2, 2008

Fresh & Easy Touts 'Organics For Less' in its Grocery Stores For May: F&E Buzz Checks it Out and Finds it's the 'Real Deal'

Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is touting its Fresh & Easy store brand organic products as "Organics for Less" in its 61 small-format, convenience-oriented grocery stores in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada for the month of May.

Fresh & Easy says as part of the grocer's mission to make fresh, wholesome food easily accessable to everyone, it offers a range of affordably-priced organic products in every store, at everyday low-prices.

Among the Fresh & Easy store brand organic food and grocery products the retailer is promoting at everyday low prices in its stores for May include:

>fresh & easy Organic Shredded Cheddar & Monterey Jack Cheese, 6 oz - $2.39
>fresh & easy Organic Mango Lemonade, 59 fl oz - $2.99
>fresh & easy Organic Medium Brown Cage Free Eggs, 1 dozen - $1.99
>fresh & easy Organic Applewood Smoked Turkey, 6 oz - $3.69
>fresh & easy Organic Ketchup, 20 oz - $1.65
>fresh & easy Organic Creamy Peanut Butter, 16 oz - $2.98
>fresh & easy Organic Whole Wheat Flour, 2 lbs - $1.25
>fresh & easy Organic Strawberry Low-Fat Yogurt, 6 oz - $0.98
>fresh & easy Organic Shells & Cheese, 6 oz - $0.99
>fresh & easy Organic Baked Beans, 15 oz - $0.98
>fresh & easy Organic Breakfast Blend Ground Coffee, 12 oz - $4.99
>fresh & easy Organic 100% Apple Juice, 64 fl oz - $2.99

The price comparison

We asked Fresh & Easy Buzz correspondents in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada, to do a quick and dirty price comparison for us on four of these 12 items: the organic coffee, organic whole wheat flour, organic medium brown cage-free eggs, the organic peanut butter, and organic ketchup.

Additionally, we asked them to check as many stores in the three market regions (where Fresh & Easy has its 61 stores) as they could, and to make sure they checked "everyday prices" on the items in the stores.

Lastly, we instructed them to note the price on a non store-brand national or regional branded organic item in these categories should the particular store they were price checking in not have store brand organics, which often is the case.

Note: Our Las Vegas correspondent couldn't come through do to an emergency.

Therefore, our data is for Southern California and Arizona, which is fine because that's were the majority of Tesco's Fresh & Easy stores are located anyway. In addition, retail pricing schemes in Southern California and the Las Vegas Metro region are very close, therefore its valid to generalize the Southern California comparisons to Las Vegas in our experience and estimation.

The stores checked in the price comparison by our correspondents:

Southern California: Whole Foods Market, Sprouts Farmers Market, Vons.
Arizona: Bashas, A.J's Fine Foods (owned by Basha's), Whole Foods Market.

Here's a summary of what the correspondents found:

Whole Wheat Flour: The fresh & easy brand organic whole wheat flour was the lowest of all the brands checked in the stores (this included a branded item in two of the stores) at 2-lbs for $1.25, the correspondents' said.

Organic Ketchup: The fresh & easy brand was 4 cents lower than Safeway's O' Organics brand and 15% cheaper than Whole Foods' store brand, according to the correspondents.

Organic Medium Brown Cage-Free Eggs: fresh & easy store brand was the lowest of all the stores checked, the correspondents' reported. Only one store checked had a store brand, the rest were third-party brands, according to our correspondents.

Organic Creamy Peanut Butter: The fresh & easy brand was about 10%-15% cheaper than comparable brands in the stores checked, our correspondents said.

Organic Coffee: Whole Foods had a similar organic coffee for the same price, $4.99. However, the cheapest similar quality and size organic coffee at the other stores checked cost $5.99, according to our correspondents.

Organic cage-free eggs a bargain

The fresh & easy brand Organic Cage-Free Eggs at $1.99 dozen are a real bargain.

In fact, the $1.99 dozen price for the cage-free, brown eggs is a good price for eggs in general in all three markets.

A number of supermarkets in Southern California and the Phoenix Metro region are currently advertising regular white, battery cage-raised large eggs for 2 dozen for $5, for example. That's 51-cents more per-dozen than Fresh & Easy's higher-quality fresh & easy brand brown and cage-free eggs are selling for.

[Note to Fresh & Easy, large grade eggs are the eggs of choice for consumers in the Western U.S. by a considerable ratio over medium grade. Of course, at $1.99 dozen the medium brown cage-free eggs should sell well.]

By price-comparing five of the 12 items (you don't really think we would ask the correspondents to do all 12 since they did it for free, do you?) we got a decent random sample. And, based on that random sample and the results of the price comparison, Tesco's Fresh & Easy came out very well in terms of having affordable everyday low prices on those organic grocery products. In other words, it's the real deal.

fresh & easy brand organic products

According the Simon Uwins, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's marketing director, the Fresh & Easy store brand organic food and grocery products contain no added trans-fats, no artificial colors or flavors, and only contain preservatives when absolutely necessary.

These product attributes also are the case with Fresh & Easy's store brand non-organic items as well, according to Uwins.

Fresh & Easy Buzz analysis

If Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market were to promote and communicate the everyday prices and values of its organic range of food and grocery products on a regular and sustained basis, we think the grocer could begin to siphon-off some organic food and grocery category business from Whole Foods Market, Inc., Vons (especially Vons' Pavillions' stores) Trader Joe's, A.J.'s Fine Foods (Arizona only) and Sprout's Farmers' Market stores in the three respective market regions. Sprouts' is a big factor in Arizona, a lessor one in Southern California, and doesn't exist in the Las Vegas market--yet.

However, such communications and promoting (we're using promoting in the case of creating awareness rather than price promotion since the items are everyday-priced) need to reach a target audience.

For example, we got the initial information for this piece from a press release Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market distributed yesterday. We then decided to turn it into a story by having the correspondents conduct the price comparison.

Other than the press release--which may or may not be picked up by consumer publications like daily newspaper food sections--and the grocer's weekly advertising circular, we know of no other media Fresh & Easy is using to tout these organic food and grocery product values. (If anybody knows of any other media being used do let us know.)

We think some targeted radio, mixed with some selective print ads in key daily newspaper food sections in the three regions, tied-in with the press release scheme, in-store promotion of the organics and some creative gorilla marketing tactics, would really create awareness--and sales--for organic category items in the Fresh & Easy stores. When you are the new kid on the block you've got to go big or go home.

The time is right to make a big value splash. The economies in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada or some of the worse currently in the U.S. Many shoppers want to continue to buy healthy and organic foods, but are having to cut back because of not only the soaring costs of organic products, but any and all food and grocery products in general.

There is a large, receptive audience out there waiting for a strong value proposition in the organic food and grocery category, in our analysis. However, to reach those target consumers a retailer doing so has to be smart, savvy and aggressive in its marketing and communications. Lots of channels and multi media is the key--and it can be done cheaply.

As a result, if few or any consumer media sources don't write about the promotion, then the only place potential customers will see the values is in the weekly ad circular, if they get one. In other words, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody is there to see it fall, it might have been a spectacular tree toppling--but who can say it really happened?

Based on our correspondents' simple price comparison, we can say the values Fresh & Easy is offering in these organic products are good. However, the next step is to communicate them as widely as possible.

Thus far, in our analysis, the retailer just hasn't been very good at that for whatever reasons.

Of course, that could change--and we believe the organic values program is certainly a good base in which to build that improved communications and marketing platform on. The organic product values are the real deal after all.

1 comment:

carrol said...

I want to share a great place where I always shop for organic and gluten free products. Whole And Natural. They have lots of great stuff including organic ketchup.