OKLAHOMA CITY -- Baker's Supermarkets, which is new to this marketplace, ran its first truckload sale here of Fleming Co.'s private-label BestYet brand.
The promotion included massive front-end displays and prominent signage that featured canned and frozen items. Displays on the wall of values at the front of one store included canned whole and cream corn, cut and French green beans and sweet peas, 14- or 15-ounce cans, at four for $1.
Fleming, here, is in the process of converting several of its private labels to the BestYet brand. The conversion, which is being conducted one region at a time, will make BestYet Fleming's premiere first-quality brand. The program is expected to be completed nationwide by September, according to Wayne Altschul, group vice president for Fleming Brands.
Baker's, Omaha, Neb., a division of Fleming since 1992, entered this region last November with its acquisition of five independent stores in the state.
According to a store-level source at a Baker's unit here, Baker's stores here moved to BestYet about three or four months ago. The source said the switch has been a success, citing that the pricing, quality, displays and labeling of BestYet are comparable to national brands.
"Some people even prefer it to the national brands, especially on price," the source said.
Last month's truckload campaign included large, colorful signs suspended from the ceiling at the front end. Smaller signs were on the massive displays and shelf tags in-aisle. The large signs said: "BestYet, It's Your Best Bet. Great Quality at a Lower Price."
Other Center Store items on sale were canned peaches, whole peeled tomatoes, Saltine crackers, paper towels, macaroni and cheese boxed dinners and apple juice. A three-door freezer endcap featured various BestYet potato products, 32-ounce bags at two for $3; and frozen mixed vegetables, 16-ounce bags for 98 cents.
BestYet frozen orange juice was also on sale, with 12-ounce cans at 59 cents.
In addition to BestYet, Fleming will continue to produce three other first-quality brands: Piggly Wiggly, IGA and its new Living Well line. The Rainbow value brand will also remain in some markets.
As reported in SN, Fleming made the decision to go with BestYet as its flagship brand after conducting extensive consumer research that showed it has the highest purchase motivation among consumers. The Fleming division here has already completed converting the TV brand to the BestYet label and the Exceptional Values banner to Rainbow.
"Our retailers make sure that we are priced right," Altschul told SN during an interview here. "What we do is make sure the quality is right. Over time, that has improved retailers' sales. They know they can trust the brand, and so can the consumer."
Bill Umscheid, Fleming's Oklahoma City division president, noted that 1997 was a "tremendous year" for store brands here.
"With the conversion to BestYet and Rainbow, our case sales were up 26%," he said. "Our retailers have genuinely bought in and accepted these brands."
A hallmark of the Fleming brands program is cooperation and flexibility, added Altschul. "We put together a promotional package for in-store and also some radio, with different things divisions and retailers can use. At the same time, we literally fund the marketing of the new brand," he said.
He explained that retailers can tailor the marketing program to meet their needs, citing that the Salt Lake City division made the unusual decision to convert to the BestYet brand during the fall and winter holidays.
"For October, November and December, their volume was up more than 30% over year prior, with one period up 47% over year prior. That astounded us," said Altschul. "They did it with a broad-based media approach."
BestYet currently has about 1,800 items of frozen, grocery and dairy products, as does the IGA brand. Piggly Wiggly has about 1,000 items, and the Rainbow brand has about 500 stockkeeping units.
Altschul declined to comment on the direction Fleming is planning for its new Living Well line. As reported in SN, the recently launched better-for-you line of frozen meals currently has eight SKUs.
"We did a lot of research and fully evaluated the product with the consumer, from concept to branding to packaging and product fulfillment, but you never [really] know until you get it into the marketplace," said Altschul. "It's too early to assess repeat business."
Altschul noted that American consumers are much smarter today about brands, because of price wars.
"There's a brand that we trust, and then there are two other brands that we trust. We are going to buy the one that has the best price," he said.
He added that it is now possible to provide consumers with an unprecedented level of quality in private-label and store brands, and this has not gone unnoticed by the public.