WAYNE, N.J. -- Next month, Grand Union Co. here is slated to start a major push to boost its specialty and natural grocery program.
The 230-unit chain plans to improve the category's selection by adding more ethnic foods, resetting and/or enlarging specialty and natural sections at some stores, launching an extensive marketing and promotional campaign, and testing different formats for the category, possibly using the store-within-a store concept.
Grand Union officials declined to comment on the strategy. However, it took root in December, when the chain hired Marketing Associates, Albany, N.Y., to oversee and coordinate its specialty and natural foods program.
"Grand Union will become very aggressive in specialty and natural [groceries]," said Michele Swedick, owner and president of Marketing Associates. "They have taken about 80% of their business [in the category] through a wholly owned, in-house distributor called Specialty Merchandising Services, based in Montgomery, N.Y." Gourmet Awards Foods, St. Paul, Minn., also will supply specialty items, mainly kosher foods, she said.
Replanogramming will be done at certain stores, according to Swedick. Most of Grand Union's current specialty and natural offerings are dry groceries -- plus some frozen, dairy, and health and beauty items -- so perimeter departments like produce, meat, deli and seafood will undergo greater changes, she said.
of demographic marketing. So in some cases, there may be as much specialty [grocery] in a store as regular grocery, depending on the demographics," she explained.
"Specialty is integrated in their stores. So we could have as much as 8 feet in a category and probably a minimum of 4 feet in any one category in an average income [trade area]. Natural is segregated, and that goes as high as 80 or 90 feet right now. And there's talk of testing store-within-a-store concepts. We're going to have the ability to test a lot of new things."
Though plans still are taking shape, changes in stores -- such as more specialty and natural items -- will appear next month, Swedick reported. "There will be features with natural and specialty foods in at least two of the ads every month," she explained. "We'll do six to eight major events a year -- a gourmet food festival, Britishfest, Oktoberfest, etc. -- and a lot of consumer mailings and consumer education, using their card information to get to as many consumers as possible." Heavy micromarketing will be done to pinpoint ethnic and middle- to upper-income neighborhoods, she noted.