Supermarket marketing (supermarketing?) is part of our agency DNA at SHEPHERD. Robin Shepherd began his marketing career as an art director on the Winn Dixie account, while VP of Client Services Mike Russell began his marketing career working for Winn Dixie. The two worked together at William Cook Advertising where they created The Beef People and countless other memorable grocery campaigns. Robin left the agency to form Robin Shepherd Studios, and two decades - and hundreds of Winn Dixie campaigns later - Mike joined him. More recently, our associate creative director Damon Williams helped re-launch the WD brand before joining us a few years back. The expertise and experience the trio brought from their independent Winn Dixie days have helped the agency create successful campaigns for competing Southeastern grocers like Sweetbay Supermarket and Native Sun Natural Foods.
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Angus Beef has become fairly ubiquitous these days, popping up everywhere from fancy steakhouses to McDonald's. A few years back, just ahead of the curve, Tampa-based Sweetbay Supermarket decided to start carrying it in their stores. Given our history with Winn-Dixie and the Beef People (which Robin helped create, and VP of Client Services Mike Russell oversaw for a good 20 years), they gave us a call to see if we could help them out with the launch.
We knew men would be more than happy to pick up a few Angus steaks when they were going to be grilling. The only problem was, men are not the primary shoppers and we needed to sell a lot more than just Angus steaks - we needed to move stew meat, ground beef and roasts, too. So, in order to convey the value of the Angus brand to the female shopper, we created a romanticized version of the brand's Western origins. From the logo we created to the floor graphics, radio and television we produced, we wanted shoppers to think of Sweetbay Genuine Angus as an accessible premium brand that the primary shopper could buy knowing it would fit the budget and score points with the peanut gallery at home.
The campaign was an instant hit and exceeded their sales projections - despite the fact that they rolled out the new brand smack-dab in the middle of Lent when all, most, good Catholics cut back on beef consumption.
Native Sun was sitting pretty - they had a diehard staff of committed natural food experts, a zealous commitment to upholding the highest standards of organic food tenets and the store was named Whole Foods magazine's Grocer of the Year. They were far and away North Florida's favorite whole foods brand - but then America's favorite whole foods brand, Whole Foods, decided to move in across the street from them at the same time traditional grocers like Publix and Winn-Dixie began expanding their organic food aisles. For the first time in the brand's history, they were facing major league competition.
Prior to working with Native Sun, we had developed a number of organic food brands and packaging, so we had a pretty good understanding of the organic food consumer. We also had Native Sun founder Aaron Gottlieb. While these stores were dedicating an aisle or two to organic foods, Aaron had dedicated his entire life.
With his insights as our guide, we developed an even greater understanding of the organic audience, which we then combined with our previous grocery marketing expertise in order to fend off the hemp-carpet bagging new guys that were rolling into town. The ensuing marketing and event support that we generated managed to help Native Sun keep their sales on track and withstand the encroachment of Whole Foods (which, as Aaron correctly pointed out, doesn't sell nearly as many organic foods as you might think).