The Co-operative Group is planning to “shout value” this year in a bid to shake off consumer perceptions that its food stores are too expensive.
It is planning a major marketing assault to let consumers know about its latest deals, including ramping up its TV advertising from 50 executions last year to 200 this year, as well as delivering leaflets regularly to houses close to its stores.
Speaking exclusively to The Grocer, acting food CEO Sean Toal said: “The value has always been there but we have not shouted about it. We have a pricing structure that is right for us and we know consumers are happy because we get 14.5 million shoppers a week and repeat customers.”
The customer perception that Co-op stores are pricey was “historical”, he added. “We have invested millions in improving prices since taking on Somerfield,” Toal said.
The Co-op had about 750 lines on promotion every three weeks, ranging from bogofs and half-price deals through to everyday low pricing, he added. The average number of promotions in a Tesco Express store is about 450.
Suppliers were very supportive of the pricing push, Toal said. A recent conference, originally intended for 100 sales directors, had been attended by 500 suppliers. Suppliers were also working to offer different pack sizes and exclusive promotions.
The Co-op Group will also launch value and family pack sizes this year as part of plans to launch or reformulate 1,400 own-label lines.
It was also “more than on track” on its promise to open 300 new stores in three years, despite a number of recent store closures. It now has 2,801 food stores and opened 32 last year. Earlier this year, it acquired c-store retailer David Sands, which had 28 stores.