ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. -- In a move to broaden its customer base, Gooding's Supermarkets here has lowered prices on 10,000 grocery items.
The upscale chain, which has 18 stores in central Florida, implemented the program companywide this month after an experimental 5,000-item price reduction at some locations, according to Michael Cianciarulo, company president.
"It's done very well for us so far. We tested it in Brevard County and had good results," Cianciarulo said.
Although the program is still young, it appears that more people are shopping at Gooding's, a local observer reported. "I haven't seen any hard numbers as far as increases in movement, but it seems like the customer traffic in stores is up," he said.
Price reductions are concentrated in dry grocery but hit all product categories, including frozens and fresh foods, Cianciarulo noted. Gooding's private label, Food Club, and brand-name items are both subject to the discounts, he said.
Promotion for the price-cut program, which is ongoing, involves point-of-sale materials, end displays and extensive print and broadcast advertising.
"It's being supported in stores with aggressive price tags to draw attention to the items," Cianciarulo said. "There are big price signs with comparisons to other retailers, banners outside and inside, and radio, TV and billboard ads." TV commercials have featured Jonathan Gooding, Gooding's chairman, the local observer said.
Gooding's adopted the lowered-price strategy to reach
more customers and to combat heavy double-couponing in the market, which has led many shoppers to hop from one store to another to get bargains, according to Cianciarulo.
"We've always been positioned or looked at as an upscale-quality merchant, which we still are. But along with that comes a high-price image, even though you are still competitive. [For example,] we carry a wide variety of specialty foods and stuff like that. So this [campaign] gives us a point to really deliver to the customer a competitive price," he explained.
"Everybody in our market is claiming to be an everyday low-price operator, and I want to make sure we're right in the ballpark," Cianciarulo said.
Indeed, competitors like Winn-Dixie Stores, Jacksonville, Fla.; Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla.; and Albertson's, Boise, Idaho, which has a Florida division, have tenaciously promoted low prices, pushing Gooding's to boost its value appeal, according to the local observer. Winn-Dixie bills itself as the "Low Price Leader," while Publix and Albertson's pitch low prices plus service, he said.
"Gooding's has always had a niche in the market where they've catered more to the upper-class clientele. They feel that they needed to get more into the mainstream [customer base] to compete with Winn-Dixie, Albertson's and Publix," he explained. "I think they thought they were missing out a little on customer counts."
The 10,000 lowered-prices program will help bolster shopper loyalty and draw new customers, Cianciarulo said.
"It's a better way to relay better shelf prices to our true customers and not have all your dollars spent on double-coupon costs. It makes a lot more sense. I think [shoppers] get a better overall basket full of groceries, and a better customer shops your whole store rather than shops from a coupon standpoint."