Lowes Foods Tests Value Grocer Concept

Discussion
May 23, 2011
Tom Ryan

Lowes Foods, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., is testing a value-grocery concept called Just$ave. Described as “Lowes Foods’ frugal cousin,” the concept features a “Dollar Spot” aisle, a wall of values, and bins of savings with a tagline, “Helping You $ave Moolah.” But convenience, fresh, buying local and community are also being emphasized.

A focus on speed of checkout and having its customer service center centrally located between registers plays to the convenience aspect. Just$ave also features a number of “Blue Ribbon items,” described as the best of the best in each department, including fried chicken, sweet tea, apple pie, pound cake and fresh ground sausage designed to help customers save time in the kitchen. Says adverting copy of Just$ave’s website, “You know how you feel when you see a blue ribbon at the local fair? You know that the blue ribbon product was the best tasting, mouth-watering, most delicious item of its kind and you wish you had the recipe to try it at home!”

Many products available in the store are also being sourced locally, allowing a lower cost of distribution and fresher products. Besides private labels such as Lowes Foods, Better Valu, and Top Care, Just$ave will also carry Lowes Foods’ Pilot Mountain Pride locally grown produce.

The company will continue to play an active role in the community and focus on programs that help feed the hungry and educate local youth.

“Just$ave will provide [consumers] with a sense of being part of a community and our family,” Lowes’ spokesperson Beth Talley said in a written statement provided to theproducenews.com. “Our store appeals to budget-conscious people who believe in hometown goodness and traditional cooking. We are a destination for meat and deliver sensible ways for hard-working folks to provide quality product for their families at prices that are so good it’s not worth the trip to go anywhere else.”

No future stores are yet planned. Lowes Foods operates more than 100 stores throughout North and South Carolina.

Discussion Questions: Besides price, what will be the key differentiation point for emerging value grocery formats? What the best way for regional grocer’s value concepts to compete with national supermarkets or the big discounters? What do you think of Just$ave?

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7 Comments on "Lowes Foods Tests Value Grocer Concept"


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Ralph Jacobson
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

“Service” is still the best way for grocers to compete without driving down margins. Have preferential staffing on the POS lanes for large orders. Three clerks on a terminal, one to offload, one to scan, one to bag, is a huge perk for the “full cart” shoppers!

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
9 years 11 months ago

“Just$ave” is a potent appeal if that is the mindset on why you go to a store–and that audience is huge and expanding.

For everyone else, “Just$ave” has to be careful that it doesn’t downplay service and the desired pleasant ambient enjoyment most frequently sought by many shoppers.

“Just$ave” should be formatted and operated so it isn’t perceived as just one more revolution in the ever-revolving door of store formats.

Ian Percy
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Wasn’t it just a few days ago that we discussed how to separate unhealthy from healthy food choices? I suggested having two big arrows at the entrance directing people to their primary choice. Now we’re distinguishing between “cheap” aisles and “not so cheap.”

It struck me that maybe stores need to be organized the way good websites are. You design the site architecture around what the customers are looking for. “Cheap?” Over there. “Healthy?” Front part of the store. “Unhealthy?” Far corner. “Local Produce?” Next to the healthy section. That may mean having strawberry jam in four places but it might be worth it.

In website design, however, there’s an attempt to use “persuasive architecture;” that is, taking the customer where you’d prefer them to go. We don’t seem to have that kind of conversation when it comes to a food store–or any other form of retail for that matter. Maybe it’s time to take a more proactive stance!

Cathy Hotka
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

OK, so yesterday, a pound of Oscar Meyer bacon was $7.59 at Safeway. No, really. My mother says that going grocery shopping is now a little like visiting the Smithsonian; you can admire the items, but you cannot take them home.

If Lowes Foods can advocate for customers by carrying lower-priced items and directing shoppers to the best items, they’ll be very successful.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
9 years 11 months ago

I’d like this concept more if it were launched in 2008, during the height of the recession. Still, given the post-recession consumer’s ongoing focus on value in the grocery space, it still makes sense.

But it’s the buying local and giving back to the community that’s the icing on the value cake. Those latter elements do differentiate the brand and, if the prices are comparable to other value grocers in the area, it may be enough to tip the scale in Just$ave’s favor.

David Livingston
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

I wonder if Lowes’ management spends much time at Walmart?

Mark Burr
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

The best point of differentiation for a regional in this attempt at a small value format will be to excel in fresh areas. If sourcing local can make that happen–all the better, but it matters not the source. The differentiation will come through value and quality.

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