ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Wegmans will school shoppers on healthy eating on a budget this Saturday during its Back to School meal preview event.
Wegmans' meal stations and its Nature's Marketplace, grocery, frozen, dairy, deli, bakery and general merchandise departments will participate in the chainwide event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Back-to-school time means back to needing quick and nutritious breakfasts, interesting and healthy lunches, and fast and affordable suppers,” said Wegmans on its website. “Stop by our store and see how we can help you make the transition from summer to fall easier.”
Although a mix of national-brand and private-label products will be sampled, store-brand offerings will be heavily promoted during the event.
Wegmans Fitness Crunch cereal, Wegmans Super Yogurt and store-brand blueberries will be used to create parfait samples in the dairy department, while tastes of Wegmans Cinnamon Squares and Blueberry Muffin Cereal will be featured in its grocery aisles.
The retailer is also highlighting its corporate-brand items in a back-to-school meal suggestion list. Featured prominently on its website, the list invites shoppers to “Eat Smart 18 Ways.”
The list's Breakfast Burrito to Go comprises a Wegmans Whole Wheat Tortilla, Wegmans Salsa, Wegmans 2% Milk Shredded Mexican Cheese and Wegmans Large Omega-3 Eggs, while the Chicken Classic idea suggests pairing a Rotisserie Chicken with Wegmans frozen Broccoli Cuts, Wegmans frozen Crinkle Cut Carrots and Wegmans 100% Whole Wheat Bread made with Organic Flour.
Wegmans' efforts come at a time when retailers are vying for shoppers' brand loyalty with their private-label lines.
“It's a great time to ride the economic situation, get people to try the products, and hopefully they'll convert their brand preference,” said Jim Hertel, managing director of Willard Bishop, Barrington, Ill. “Every retailer that we discuss the situation with has said that private-brand unit volume is growing much faster than national-brand.”
In addition to benefiting from margins that are about 10 to 12 percentage points greater than those realized on a national-brand item's sale, retailers that aggressively promote their store brands also stand to improve their overall price image.
“There are more strategic benefits beyond the margin impact, like the effects of improved price perception,” said Hertel.
That may be the goal of Publix's three-week-old Essentials program, which discounts staple products for an unspecified period of time. Last week, Publix promoted the reduced price of its Publix Big Roll Print paper towels, 89 cents a roll, and Publix Orange Juice, $2.49 a gallon. Three of the four Essentials items featured so far are part of Publix's corporate brand.
“We use the program to give great value to customers,” Maria Brous, Publix's spokesperson, told SN.
The offers are being held in conjunction with the third three-week Publix Brand Challenge promotion to be hosted this year.
“We bring it back year after year, since it resonates with our shoppers,” Brous said.
During each week of the challenge, either three or four national-brand and private-label item pairs are designated. When a shopper purchases the national-brand product, they'll receive its Publix-brand counterpart free.
Last week's challenge featured Purina Bacon Flavor Beggin Strips, 6 ounces, and Publix Bacon Flavor Wavy Treats, 6 ounces; Milk Bone Medium Dog Biscuits, 26 ounces, and Publix Medium Size Dog Treats, 26 ounces; and Pedigree Choice Cuts with Lamb & Vegetables, 22 ounces, and Publix Dog Food with Lamb & Vegetables, 22 ounces.
Publix is catering to cash-strapped shoppers in other ways.
A sales circular promoting discounted Essentials items also prominently features a recipe for Beef Stir-Fry & Rice. Four of the five brand-specific ingredients featured are store-brand items.