As Tesco opened the first six Fresh & Easy Neighbourhood Stores across California, it revealed that it would be relying on direct mailing to spread the word to consumers about its Stateside venture.
There had been no traditional advertising and there were no plans to buy space in newspapers, television or radio, said the retailer at a pre-opening event in the first store in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Instead it would rely on bi-weekly direct mail in a bid to persuade shoppers it can compete on price with the more traditional big box retailers in the States.
Speaking at the event, Tim Mason, chief executive of the US operation, said American consumers were ready for the new convenience offer. "Everyone wants decent, modern shopping," he said. "They want it close to home."
Low prices would be key, he said. As well as offering competitively priced eggs and milk, Fresh & Easy beats its rivals on prices of some staple goods for US customers. For example, it is charging $3.99 for a 1lb bag of grated Mexican-style four-cheese blend, while a Ralphs supermarket in Los Angeles County charges $5.49.
Its fresh offer would help differentiate it from the competition, said Mason. At the Los Angeles store, the first aisle is stocked with flowers, fresh fruit and veg, as well as prepared fruits and salads. The second aisle is devoted to meat and the store also stocks ambient grocery and alcohol as well as ready meals. There are also touchscreen stations that give the customer three checkout options - self-checkout, assisted checkout and cashier checkout.
"It's unclear how Fresh & Easy will match up against the much larger, more established US supermarkets," said Gregory Stoffel, a California analyst. "Until Tesco gets more locations, it's hard to say whether they're going to change the landscape. They could carve out a decent niche."
However, Tesco faced local opposition from campaign group Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, which handed out leaflets about "Tesco's track record of broken promises" outside the Los Angeles store.