SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- Price Chopper Supermarkets here is running a new promotional campaign for its prepared meals that takes aim at competing quick-service food establishments.
The advertising for Ready Meals, the "closer-to-the-table" concept for the chain's ready-to-cook, ready-to-heat and ready-to-eat meals, presents the chain's prepared meals as an alternative to food-service establishments such as Boston Market, Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
"If we don't yell and scream that we're there as an alternative, we're at fault," said Joanne Gage, vice president of public and consumer affairs. The Ready Meals concept, in one form or another, is in all stores, although not all stores offer all the programs.
Billboard ads ask consumers, "Why go to a Hut, when you can eat at home for dinner?" "Why go to Boston?" "Why go to Kentucky?" "Tired of fast food?" and "Is dinner ready?" -- all taking tongue-in-cheek pot shots at what has become somewhat of a serious problem for supermarket business.
The advertising campaign is featured on in-store signs, in the chain's four-page circular and on local radio stations as well as on the billboards. The outside components of the campaign highlight the ready-to-cook aspect of the Ready Meals program.
"We're concentrating on very heavy drive-time messages," Gage said. "Fifty percent of Americans don't start thinking about what they're going to eat for dinner until they get in their cars."
The chain turns up the volume of its advertising campaign toward the end of the week, when consumers are more likely to order out for dinner, Gage added. The Ready Meals ready-to-cook product segment features several items from the meat department, usually already marinated, and precut vegetables. Ready-to-heat meals consist of foods that are basically prepared, including lasagna, side dishes and soups, while the ready-to-eat meals, which are made at the stores, consist of rotisserie chickens, pizza, fish and whole meals, Gage said.
The meals are prepared in-store, and a number of suppliers are used. The chain sells most of its meals in the deli, with the exception of its ready-to-cook line, which is mostly in the meat department, and fried fish, which is done in the seafood department.
The chain also offers Ready Recipes in the four-page circular, which Gage said is one of its biggest attractions.