TWIN COUNTY UPDATES FOODTOWN LOGO

EDISON, N.J. -- Twin County Grocers here has redesigned its private-label packaging in an effort to make the brand more contemporary and upscale.The new packaging makes much greater use of different color schemes and color photography than the previous label. It also incorporates the cooperative's new logo, with "Foodtown" in white lettering surrounded by navy blue and with a red flag rising out of

EDISON, N.J. -- Twin County Grocers here has redesigned its private-label packaging in an effort to make the brand more contemporary and upscale.

The new packaging makes much greater use of different color schemes and color photography than the previous label. It also incorporates the cooperative's new logo, with "Foodtown" in white lettering surrounded by navy blue and with a red flag rising out of the "w." In the logo and on the packaging, a banner includes the words "Quality & Value."

"The label had not been updated for a number of years and we wanted to give it a more contemporary look. It needs to be up to today's standards, and it needed a breath of fresh air," said Gary Hilliard, Twin County's vice president of grocery merchandising.

Hilliard said the new label is simple yet has a quality image. The label had been in the works for more than a year and is being phased in on Foodtown's more than 1,500 private-label products.

"The label makes greater use of color photographs than the previous label. The color is a lot more brilliant and the reproduction is much better. It is a fresh, clean look that ties into our new 'fresh and friendly' subtheme, which we're tying in throughout the store. We think the new label projects that image," he said.

Joseph Azzolina, president of Food Circus Super Markets, Middletown, N.J., and a Twin County board member, said the new label was developed using input from numerous consumer focus groups.

"With the new ingredient labels we had to print, it was an opportune time to switch the whole program," he said.

"The new label is high class and looks prestigious like President's Choice, and the merchandise is as good if not better," Azzolina said.

Although most of Twin County's competitors, including A&P, Pathmark and Acme Markets, have introduced premium upscale private labels, Hilliard said Twin County currently has no plans to do so.

"Our first objective is to get this completely done. We felt it would be a little bit premature to be thinking about another label until this is complete. It is a massive project. It just didn't make sense to talk about a second label.

"Plus, honestly, we think we have a very sophisticated look in this label and we would have to give it a lot of research in order to come up with the right type of label. We are projecting a good image and the new label is lasting in itself," he said.

The new logo is also being phased into aspects of Twin County and its retail member companies. "Eventually, the trucks will have the new logo, but it will take a longer time to replace the signs on the buildings because that is the expensive part. As we replace signs and open new stores, they will have the new logo," Azzolina said.

In New Jersey, Twin County promoted the new private-label packaging in the weekly circular that ran the first week of October.

A yellow box on the front of the circular said, "Foodtown has a new look! All new packaging,

exceptional quality & value. Price & Compare. Satisfaction guaranteed." The entire back page of the circular was devoted to Foodtown private-label products, with photos and item prices.

"Our great new packaging is only the beginning of our story. When you buy Foodtown Brand items you'll get the quality of a national brand or better . . . at a much lower price. Add in our money-back Satisfaction Guarantee and it all equals value for your dollar," the ad copy read.

Featured Foodtown items included Italian bread, 49 cents with a clipless coupon; mayonnaise, 79 cents with a clipless coupon; three-liter soda, 69 cents with clipless coupon; frozen bagels, 79 cents, and fruit cocktail, 79 cents a 17-ounce can.

"We have signage in the store that identifies with the new logo, and it is now being seen in our ads and circulars. Everything in our advertising will tie in with the new logo. It is a total promotion," Azzolina said.

However, some Twin County members in New York contacted by SN said they were taking a more low-key approach to introducing the new label.

A spokeswoman for Lloyd's Shopping Centers, Middletown, N.Y., which operates two hypermarkets, said Lloyd's was not doing anything different in terms of merchandising the private label.

Likewise, D'Agostino Supermarkets, Larchmont, N.Y., is introducing the new label quietly, said Mary Moore, director of public affairs.

"We carry Foodtown because it is another way of differentiating our stores. It is a very good private-label product, and the third leg of our private-label program, along with President's Choice and our own D'Agostino label," Moore explained.

"We find the Foodtown label has a very strong following because the products are of a very high quality," she added.

"Twin County has a program all designed to go forward in the works, but it has not really sprung yet," said Dick Salmon, senior vice president of Melmarkets Foodtown, Garden City, N.Y.

"Coming into the holiday season right now makes it a little impossible. My guess is that everything will be put off until the first of the year and a big emphasis will be put on it at that time," Salmon said.

The logo redesign is the third in the company's history. It replaces a red and blue rectangle block logo that had been used since the mid-1970s. That look supplanted the original Foodtown logo -- an oval surrounding a Foodtown supermarket.