to all supermarkets who are not plus

Foodexpert Olaf van Gerwen and his company chuck studios do concept and execution of high-end content for food brands. in his monthly column he talks about his vision what he sees at the store floor

To all the food retailers,

on page one of Handbook Positioning in words much more elegant than these it says: ‘’choose a clear, distinctive positioning and stick to it wherever you can.’’ Oh yes,  and of course make sure your positioning is achievable. We all saw what happened when Rabobank claimed to solve the worlds food problem for a brief moment: cue tears and scorn.  

In the process of writing my previous nine columns I came to realise that some of you apparently still have difficulty implementing the statement above. Or maybe you just disagree with it, that’s also possible. 

Lidl says: ‘’The highest quality for the lowest price.’’ Two things that seem rather contradictory. Spar says: ‘’Convenience for every day.’’ But exactly what convenience do they mean? Is convenience the best you can offer? And don’t other supermarkets also offer that? Hoogvliet formulates The Six Pledges and Jumbo talks about The Seven Guarantees. Big brother Albert Heijn has not been communicating specifically for a while, but they have a hall pass. My colleagues and I are anxiously awaiting the new positioning and campaign. 

The GfK Summer Report calls Plus a big riser and notes that steps are being taken in terms of shopping convenience and store appearance. Store appearance, ha! We shall see. Full of anticipation I drive to Abcoude to take a good and critical look at what that wonderful store entails. Plus says: ‘’good food is for eating together.’’ Good food is a smart umbrella concept. Good can mean that it’s made of good quality. But also that it’s good for your health. Or that it has good taste. Or even that it’s good for the world. 

On television, Plus shows emotional stories in which food always plays a crucial yet supporting role.  If the consumer insight is slightly different, the line changes with it. A film about losing weight says: ‘’Good food is good for you.’’ The tagline is smoothly translated onto the floor of the store. My heart starts to beat faster immediately. ‘’Good food is for eating outside’’ with bbq stuff. ‘’Good food starts with a better life’’ talks about the quality of their beef. So as you can see, dear supermarket bosses, a distinctive proposition that is consistently maintained, on television and on the floor! It is possible! 

And then yet another first. At long last, I see images from TVCs back on the shop floor. The commercial with the tupperware-bringing grandson, returns as a mood image with a tagline. And the emphasis on tupperware in the film was no coincidence: in the store I see ‘’Good food. You want to keep that fresh’’ next to the expanded tupperware stock.

Now I understand, I believe, what Plus wants from me. They want me to come to them for Good Food, it seems. Not because the lines at the cash register are so short, not because I can return every purchase if I want, not because I can moan about the price that is five cents lower elsewhere. Watch and learn, dear supermarketeers: by not talking about details, Plus implies that those details are obviously in order. That is perhaps the greatest merit of a clear positioning – you will not fight ghosts.

 

Plus also does this nicely in other areas. Only one type of beef is promoted: Blonde d’Aquitaine. If you do that and the meat is tasty, the overly complicated name becomes a guarantee of quality at some point. The recent lowering of fresh produce prices also fits in with this vision: Good Food becomes more accessible, because it is cheaper. And what does the food imagery around these deals look like? Beautifully photographed, printed on matte paper and colourful. Plainly put, as Good Food.

A bit boring isn’t it, a column without any acerbic criticism. As usual, I do have something to complain about, but that would distract from what I want to say. I always enjoy the communication of British supermarkets such as Tesco and Marks & Spencer with great pleasure. Long breadth, clear vision, no distracting rumble in communication. Plus has found its domain. May the rest follow, and Albert Heijn first.