Over the past year or so we’ve seen some significant developments in the supermarket world.
Countdown is taking on the guise of ANZ National Bank by looking more and more like a steady transition to one monolithic trans-Tasman Woolworths brand. The company name has changed, the brand logo is ready to go, and there is a lot of green paint splashing around.
The alignment of Woolworths Trans-Tasman internal agency is also bringing a consistent voice to the brand and the efficiency of trans-Tasman marketing.
Countdown has recently set their sights in a couple of directions. Firstly, they are making a strong service play with the promise of ‘We can help with that’, which works very well across products, services, meal occasions and times of the year.
Whoever developed their new green vegetable displays with the fine mist spray deserves a medal. Countdown is making a big play on fresh food and the first impression in stores is really inviting. I expect to see them building on this in 2020 through other fresh departments such as bakery, fresh meat, seafood and deli.
The combination of high value product presentation and a strong service promise clearly says that Countdown is aiming high with a premium offering.
Across town, New World is also vying for the premium supermarket position. At a brand level they are not as distinct as Countdown and they are offering us the opportunity to somewhat vaguely ‘Enjoy better’.
A significant development at New World this year has been the introduction of Pam’s Finest. This marks the upgrade of the own brand stalwart into a high value proposition that includes fancy things like duck breasts, and porcini mushroom mezzelune. This is stretching Pam’s from a trusted price-fighter to a high-end mass premium brand. I’d be nervous if I was in Delmaine’s shoes.
New World stores continue to vary, but the quality intentions of Foodstuffs remains. I recently visited their Chaffers Park store in Wellington and was blown away by the quality of produce presentation, a truly impressive bakery with excellent pastries, and fabulous deli and fresh meat and fish departments. I look forward to seeing (and tasting) more of this in more stores next year.
One thing that stands out with both Countdown and New World is just how passive their leverage of One Card and Clubcard is respectively. The data accumulating behind these platforms must have incredible potential to add mutual value for shoppers and the supermarkets. Yet they seem to be lagging behind the direct marketing sophistication found in other categories such as travel and financial services. Perhaps 2020 will be the year when these platforms start to become real points of competitive differentiation?
At the other end of the street Pak’nSave remains very yellow and one-dimensional; trying to own the lowest price position along with a cheap and smug style of promotion. This is a territory that may come under genuine competition should low cost German chain Aldi ever come good on the persistent rumours and actually set up in New Zealand. They have been present in Australia for nearly 20 years and now has about 10 percent of the market. There are some subtle clues to suggest they might be considering New Zealand, like the appointment of an Australasian Managing Director. And there’s even a Facebook page imploring them to open in New Zealand.
That would be the biggest news for 2020. But then again, they might never come.