LACROSSE, Wis. -- Quillin's here is replacing its longtime IGA private label with two new lines that it said would differentiate its stores and better enable it to target Hispanic shoppers.
The change stems from a switch in private-label wholesalers from Roundy's, Milwaukee, to Nash Finch, Minneapolis. The new Nash Finch assortment comprises 1,000 items marketed under two labels: Our Family and Value Choice, a third tier. Quillin's also hopes to offer Our Family Pride, an upscale line that Nash Finch plans to introduce in the fourth quarter.
Quillin's expected to complete shelf resets last week, said Phil Quillin, company president.
Quillin's carried IGA items for 40 years, and IGA was the retailer's top-performing brand. But Quillin said several IGA items that were fast movers in Quillin's stores were discontinued.
Since Quillin's wanted a stronger private-label representation, the retailer decided to move from Roundy's to Nash Finch. One of the main reasons it chose Nash Finch was because the supplier provided private-label market exclusivity.
"The new line will act almost as a signature item," Quillin told SN. It also will enable Quillin's to broaden the scope of fast-growing categories, mainly Mexican.
Vivian King, a Roundy's spokeswoman, said the company did not want to lose Quillin's as a customer. She said that while she didn't know which discontinued items Quillin's was talking about, she stressed that the IGA brand is not being dropped and remains a strong private label.
"We still have that line available for our customers," King said.
Nash Finch officials did not respond to SN's request for comment.
The change affects six of Quillin's eight stores. Supervalu, Minneapolis, supplies private label to two Quillin's stores in Waukon and Decorah, Iowa, and will continue to do so, Quillin said.
The new lines will include products in most dry grocery categories, as well as in dairy, frozen, meat, deli and bakery. Pricing will be comparable to that of IGA, Quillin said.
All six stores were being reset at the same time. Nash Finch provided 40 employees to assist in the large project. With their help, Quillin's was able to replace shelf tags in all six stores in fewer than three days.
To boost consumer awareness and trial, Quillin's is aggressively advertising the new lines in its weekly circulars. It also is offering 50-cent coupons and plans to launch a rewards program that gives local schools 5 cents for every Our Family or Value Choice label redeemed.
To help educate store associates about the transition, Nash Finch provided in-store product sampling for Quillin's employees.
"We wanted our people to taste it so that they could see what a good product it is," Quillin said.
One food behavior expert said that despite the longevity of the IGA brand at Quillin's, it's unlikely that the switch will have a negative effect on consumers.
"Many people buy private label simply because it's the cheapest alternative, so it wouldn't influence their decision," said Brian Wansink, director of Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab, which examines why people buy and eat the foods they do.