CHICAGO — Family Dollar Stores is building loyalty to its new private label among a highly influential group: its employees.
It sent samples of its Family Gourmet cookies to all stores so that employees could try them. Within the next few weeks, it will run a chainwide contest to see which store can sell the most cookies. Those that do will win cash prizes. All stores are given an endcap display to promote them.
“We said, ‘Try them. You're going to love them. … Now go out and sell them,’” Mary Rachide, the discount chain's private-brand DVP, said in a presentation at IIR USA's Private Brand Movement conference here last week.
The chainwide Family Gourmet Cookie contest follows a 48-store test cookie contest that led to a large sales lift. It's one of several programs the retailer is using to get employees engaged with its new Family Gourmet line of 70-plus groceries.
Another upcoming event is the “Taste of Family Dollar,” where employees at the chain's corporate office in Matthews, N.C., will get lunch made from store brands.
“We want our store-level associates to become champions of the brand,” said Rachide.
As an employer of 45,000 people, targeting employees can significantly build sales, she said.
“If we can get our 45,000 employees believing in the quality of our food, just imagine the power of that in terms of influencing customers,” she said.
In addition to the 70 items currently rolling out, another 70-plus Family Gourmet products will hit store shelves in January and February.
All items are tested against a national-brand equivalent, and backed with a guarantee that the full purchase price will be refunded if the buyer is not 100% satisfied with the quality. Family Dollar put this guarantee on the front of all Family Gourmet packages, a first for the retailer.
“This is revolutionary for us,” Rachide said. “By putting this on the front of package, we're sending an explicit message about the quality of the product.”
Family Dollar is currently promoting Family Gourmet breakfast items for 25% off, including coffee creamer, 8 ounces, 90 cents; Classic Blend Coffee, 34.5 ounces, $4; ready-to-eat cereal, 15-17 ounces, $1.50; and Toaster Pastries, 6-count, 75 cents.
The launch of Family Gourmet follows a major private-label consolidation. Its diapers and infant/toddler apparel and accessories are now marketed under the Kidgets brand.
The previous diaper brand, Soft Stretch, was vendor-supplied. Even though Family Dollar was the only retailer to carry it, the vendor owned the brand, so Family Dollar didn't have full ownership, said Rachide.
To give itself more control, it started marketing the diapers on its own, improved the quality and gave them a new name: Kidgets.
At the same time, it consolidated its three infant/toddler apparel brands — Kidgets, Tad Little and Little Lindsey — under the Kidgets name.
Family Dollar shoppers supported one umbrella brand, said Rachide.
“Our shoppers wanted a brand that they knew and recognized,” she said.