INDIANAPOLIS — Marsh Supermarkets this week is introducing a new program of extended everyday discounts on thousands of items at Marsh stores.
The “Good 'Til” program is the first such pricing program in Indiana, Joe Kelley, the new chief executive officer of Marsh, told SN in an interview last week. It is being introduced to help Marsh improve its price image among shoppers, and grow sales and market share, and comes on the heels of a more aggressive promotional stance the retailer has assumed since this summer.
“We think there is an opportunity between our everyday pricing, which we've been told is too high, and our promotional pricing, which is getting better all the time,” said Kelley, explaining that Good 'Til was one element in an overall value proposition that also leans on Marsh's reputation for service and its equity as a local company. “This puts us in the arena.”
The new lower prices in the Good 'Til program took effect Sunday, and will last at least through Jan. 1. Kelley said Marsh would run the program four times a year, with discounts extending for about three months each. Between 2,500 and 4,500 prices will be lowered in each round of the program, focusing on the most popular items and seasonal favorites. Marsh and its product suppliers are combining on the price investment with the expectation that volume and margin dollars will improve, Kelley said.
“There are fewer trips to the store these days so we need to find a way to put one more item into the customer's carriage,” Kelley said. “[Suppliers] will sell more boxes. So they have some skin in the game and we have some skin in the game. We're banking on a mix — we're going to sell more items that are not just on sale for the week.”
Kelley said the company would clearly mark the items in the Good 'Til program with shelf tags and other advertising, underscoring a need to explain the new program to shoppers, and encourage them to “connect the dots” between the various elements of Marsh's value proposition.
“We need to teach our customers what this pricing program is all about, because it's never been done before here,” said Kelley. “We're going to be very straightforward about it.”
Kelley declined to specify a percentage decrease in everyday prices under the Good 'Til program, saying he would have a better idea once the first round is complete in January.
Kelley, who joined Marsh this spring from Price Chopper, said the pricing program is part of a plan to revive top-line sales and market share at Marsh through revamped marketing and customer-facing initiatives, including an increased capital budget for store remodels and new store builds, and a planned relaunch of its loyalty program.
The more aggressive approach to promotional pricing launched this spring helped identical sales turn positive during Marsh's most recent quarter — its first such gain since 2009, Kelley said.
“I think the Good 'Til program can grow to 15% of our total [$1.2 billion] volume if we do it right,” Kelley said. “And 15% of our total volume, on the items the consumer buys most, will really resonate with consumers.”