MISSISSAUGA, Ontario -- For Anthony Longo, chairman, Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, and president and chief executive officer of Long Brothers Fruit Markets here, niche marketing is the key to survival.
the cost of goods, we try to compete with a lower cost of operations and carve out a niche for ourselves that's distinctive from the chains."
For Long Brothers -- as for most independents in Canada, he pointed out -- the niche is perishables. While some independents feature meat or bakery, Longo's emphasizes produce, which accounts for 23% of sales, about double the chains' penetration in that category, he said.
"It's never easy competing against a big chain, but unless you carve out a niche, you're either out of business or starting the process," Longo said.
Consumers in the Toronto area are motivated by price, Longo said, with 30% of the area's food operations in low-end, price-driven box stores like Food Basics from A&P, Price Chopper from Sobeys and No Frills from Loblaw. "Those stores take a large chunk of the marketplace and drive grocery prices down, and as a result I believe the Greater Toronto area has the lowest food prices in North America," Longo said.