CHICAGO — IGA here is scheduled to unveil a series of new building blocks later this week that it believes will drive sales and enhance its brand image among its 1,154 U.S. members, Mark Batenic, chairman, president and chief executive officer of IGA USA, told SN last week.
The building blocks, which will begin to be rolled out in the first quarter of 2009, encompass the following:
A revitalized private-label program — including new package designs, improved quality assurance and improved availability — over the next 18 to 24 months on close to 2,000 items, with some reformulations forthcoming “as we work with our vendors to put more teeth into the process and to make sure all specifications are followed,” Batenic told SN.
New retail store standards — a program that will reinforce existing standards that have not always been consistently enforced among retailers by IGA's 13 licensed distributors, Batenic pointed out.
New image- and identity-builders, encompassing interior and exterior signage that members will be expected to use to establish brand identity and consistency across the country.
Improved marketing and communications, including a “MyIGA” program that will make point-of-purchase materials available year-round; and a new marketing event — IGA Hometown Healthy Choices in February, replacing IGA Hometown Shopping Spree — to join three other established national marketing events.
The initiatives are scheduled to be unveiled this Thursday and Friday at the first-ever IGA Rally in Merrillville, Ind. Batenic said IGA anticipates 350 attendees at the rally.
In the two years Batenic has headed IGA's U.S. operations, “We've spent an enormous amount of time enhancing the brand, and we plan to unveil a lot of new initiatives at the rally to make sure the IGA brand is moving forward and is recognized as the preferred brand for independents and regional chains in the U.S. and globally.”
Asked how IGA members are faring in the weakened U.S. economy, Batenic told SN, “Independents in general and IGA members in particular are doing well, because consumers facing higher gas prices are staying closer to home and finding these stores very convenient places to shop in terms of size and assortments.
“The distributors who work with us tell us same-store sales among their retail customers are above the rate of inflation and that everyone is having a good, solid year.”