SCRANTON, Pa. -- Having converted to new Topco brands, Insalaco Markets here has begun a private-label grocery push that includes a promotional campaign and plans for expanding the program with more items and a premium label.
This month, the chain ran a multipage circular devoted primarily to the Food Club, Mega, Top Frost, Pet Club, Top Crest and Top Care brands. Those labels have largely replaced the Kingston brand, which was phased out starting in early summer. All are from Topco Associates, Skokie, Ill.
The pullout had a fold-over flap bearing the new brands' trademarks. It read, "Try Our Insalaco Brands Sale. No Questions Asked Guarantee. If for any reason our guests are not satisfied with the quality of our Insalaco Brands, we will replace the product purchased with the national-brand equivalent free, or your money will be cheerfully refunded." The flap's reverse side discussed the brands' quality, price and value.
Items were offered at reduced and multiple pricing, some with the chain's In Club frequent shopper card. Groceries featured in the ad included Food Club tuna, jelly, cake mix, spaghetti sauce, pickles, cereal, soup, canned vegetables and cookies; Top Frost frozen pot pies, fried chicken, vegetables, ice cream, fruit and juice; Mega sugar and frozen potatoes; Pet Club dog food; Top Crest detergent, paper towels and bleach, and Top Care diapers.
Insalaco, a 30-store subsidiary of Penn Traffic Co., Syracuse, N.Y., began introducing the new Topco brands in July, when the wholesaler opened a warehouse here, according to John McCabe,
vice president of grocery, frozens and dairy procurement for Penn's P&C Foods division, which includes the Insalaco, P&C Foods and Quality Markets chains.
The circular was part of a divisional effort to promote the Topco brands. "It's a major private-label ad that we ran for P&C Foods in Syracuse, Quality Markets [in Jamestown, N.Y.] and Insalaco Markets in Scranton," McCabe said. "It's the first of many; there will be additional ones coming during the fall."
An in-store merchandising and display plan supported the advertising. "There was a brand-new sign program that was developed just for this ad. So there's a completely new in-store program," McCabe said. "You'll find shelf signs and probably some danglers hanging from the ceiling and banner signs."
McCabe did not know the total number of stockkeeping units for the new brands but said more items are upcoming. He could not name categories, however. Currently, the new labels basically involve product segments where Kingston had a presence.
"We're looking at other categories to see what opportunities are available. Private label is a very important part of category development. If we're not currently in a particular category because we didn't have a Kingston label for that category, we may now have a Food Club label that we could use," he explained.
Topco's premium label, World Classic, also is slated to be rolled out at Insalaco. "We're introducing a few World Classic items there," McCabe said, citing soda. "You'll see some of that over the next couple of months. I don't believe they have anything yet."
Penn Traffic phased out Kingston at Insalaco to better coordinate its overall private-label program, which already had the other Topco brands, according to McCabe. Penn's chains also include Big Bear Stores, Columbus, Ohio. Competition also was a factor, McCabe said, noting strong store brands by trade-area rivals Price Chopper, Schenectady, N.Y., and Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, N.Y. "The market is very competitive pricewise," he said. "So we wanted to put together a program that was going to be competitive. It's proven to be so in some of our other divisions."