Friday, January 21, 2011

Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Introducing New 'Gourmet' Private Brand

Private Brand Showcase

Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is introducing a new private brand - 'fresh & easy kitchen Gourmet' - in most of its stores this week, starting with a line of refrigerated, ready-to-heat fresh-prepared meals, heat-and-eat refrigerated soups, and a line of heat-and-serve frozen meals.

The new brand is actually better described as a new "co-brand" because Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market uses its exiting "Fresh & Easy Kitchen" brand name along with "Gourmet" on the packaging, making it a co-branding effort similar to what the grocer does with its 'Fresh & Easy goodness' brand.

As you can see in the photograph above though, the focus of the name of the new brand is clearly "Gourmet," with "Fresh & Easy kitchen" being secondary, both in font size and label placement on the product packages.

Tesco's Fresh & Easy has not formally announced or introduced its new private brand.

Fresh meals

The initial line of 'Fresh & Easy kitchen Gourmet' refrigerated, ready-to-heat meals includes the following upscale-sounding varieties: Chicken Milano, Fontina Chicken, Portabella Mushroom Pappardelle (pasta), Apricot Pork Tenderloin, Slow Braised Beef, Braised Lamb Shank, Mediterranean Salmon, Lobster Ravioli, and Champagne Shrimp.

The fresh, ready-meals retail for $5.99-$6.99 everyday, depending on the variety. In addition to the fresh-prepared meals, there's also a refrigerated, ready-to-heat soup line under the new private brand. The first two items being launched this week in the gourmet soup line are French Onion and Crab & Sweet Potato Bisque.

Frozen meals

The first items being introduced this week in the 'fresh & easy kitchen Gourmet' frozen meals line are: Braised Beef in Red Wine Sauce, Pork with Portobello Mushroom Sauce, and Mediterranean-Style Fisherman Stew.

All three frozen meals are priced at $6.99 each.

Additional private brand upscaling

Late last year we noted in two stories in Private Brand Showcase - December 23, 2010: New Items Show Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's Niche-Specialty Category Private Brand Development Focus and December 13, 2010: House (Sparking) Cider Rules at Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market - that the new private brand and new item development at Tesco's Fresh & Easy has been and will continue to be headed in a more upscale/premium/specialty niche or focus rather than in a discount or price-focused direction. The grocer's new 'fresh & easy kitchen Gourmet' brand, its first new private brand of 2011, offers added evidence that our analysis is correct.

The brand is not only premium and upscale in its actual name - "Gourmet" - but also in the nature - the product names and ingredients - of the first batch of SKUs introduced in the fresh and frozen product lines.

The $5.99-$6.99 price points are in range as well, although its our analysis that the jury will be out for some time as to whether or not Fresh & Easy is able to obtain repeat sales on the items, considering the portion size/price point combination. Shoppers are trading up compared to the previous three years. However, spending $28, the cost of buying four fresh or frozen meals for a family of four, is something many shoppers aren't likely ready to do on a regular basis at present.

Fresh & Easy's prices on the items are in line with many of its competitors, and lower than some of its other competitors, however.

Fresh & Easy's private brand lineup

The addition of the 'fresh & easy kitchen Gourmet' brand (or co-brand) brings to five the number of private brands Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market currently has in its portfolio. Those five retailer brands are:

>Private brand name: fresh&easy = basic store brand. Categories so far: across all store categories: Dry grocery. Refrigerated. Frozen. Includes natural and organic products.

>Private brand name: eatwell = healthy foods' brand. Categories so far: Refrigerated and fresh-prepared foods, frozen, dry grocery.

>Private brand name: fresh & easy goodness = private brand targeted to kids, with a healthy foods' focus. Categories so far: dry grocery/drinks

>Private brand name: Mother's Joy = line of breakfast cereals. Categories so far: dry grocery. Just the cereal line.

>Private brand name: fresh & easy kitchen Gourmet = gourmet/premium brand. Categories so far: fresh-prepared foods, frozen.

>Private brand name: retreat = non-foods brand. Categories so far: Health and body care.


According to our sources, Tesco's Fresh & Easy doesn't currently have immediate plans to extend the 'fresh & easy kitchen Gourmet' brand into other categories, such as dry grocery, beyond its current fresh-prepared refrigerated foods and frozen food categories.

However, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market usually starts a new store brand out, except for its fresh&easy flagship private brand, with products in just one and sometimes two categories. This was the case with its 'eatwell' healthy foods brand. The grocer launched the brand in early 2010 with a line of ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat fresh-prepared foods items. A few months later Fresh & Easy extended the brand into the dry grocery category, followed by branding a line of frozen meals under 'eatwell,' all in the same year, as we reported on and wrote about here.

As such, we will be watching the further development of Fresh & Easy's new 'fresh & easy kitchen Gourmet' private brand throughout the year.

Private Brand Showcase: 2011 stories

January 20, 2011: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's 'eatwell' Brand Frozen Meals Take Center Stage In-Store This Week

January 18, 2011: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Launches 'Extra-Low Every Day Low Price' Merchandising Program

January 6, 2011: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Hopes 'eatwell' Makes For A Healthy 2011

January 5, 2011: Safeway Adds 'Open Nature' to its Natural-Organic-Healthy Foods' Private Brand Portfolio

January 4, 2011: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Kicks Off 2011 With an Appeal to 'eatwell'

[Click for a selection of stories from 2010.]


CLB said...

"that the new private brand and new item development at Tesco's Fresh & Easy has been and will continue to be headed in a more upscale/premium/specialty niche or focus rather than in a discount or price-focused direction."

Maybe but not if it follows the UK/European model; it will have Fresh & Easy; a Fresh & Easy gourmet brand and - possibly - a Fresh & Easy value brand.

The focus will continue to be quality whilst remaining a low price leader (without vouchers). Vouchers may - ultimately - be replaced by an in-store reward programme; again as in UK.

Fresh & Easy Buzz said...

Thanks for your comment.

Are you familiar with the markets Tesco is in with Fresh & Easy, particularly Southern California and metro Phoenix, Arizona?

Fresh & Easy isn't really a low-price leader in those markets, particularly without vouchers. Rather, Fresh & Easy's everyday prices are on par with Safeway and Kroger, the top 2 supermarket chains in both market regions.

Walmart in Arizona; WinCo Foods and Food-4-Less in Southern California are the low-price leaders without vouchers in each respective region. Many other retailers match Fresh & Easy from an everyday price perspective.