Play It Again, Jack
By George Anderson
We’ve heard that tune before. At least, Michigan consumers have.
Beginning tomorrow, Farmer Jack will bring back an advertising message that it mothballed five years ago, “It’s Always Savings Time at Farmer Jack,” with ads, circulars and radio spots.
The company also plans on making changes to its stores and pricing structure (permanent price cuts on 4,000 items) to bring customers back to its stores after watching its market share erode steadily in recent times. Farmer Jack will also reinstate its Bonus Saving card to provide incentives for frequent shoppers.
Just how effective will the new ad campaign and other changes be in convincing consumers that it makes sense to put Farmer Jack at the top of their shopping destination list for groceries?
David Livingston, principal at DJL Research and a member of the RetailWire BrainTrust, told The Detroit News he was dubious about the announced changes at Farmer Jack.
“It seems like they try to reinvent themselves every six months,” he said.
Thomas Lenkevick, vice president of operations for Farmer Jack, said things are different this time. “Our goal is to turn the company around,” he said. “We’re not closing stores. We’re not for sale.”
Mr. Lenkevick said that, in Michigan, the combination of high gasoline prices and the automotive industry’s problems has pushed price to the top of consumers’ list for reasons to shop at a store.
“Pricing is the main message,” he told The Detroit Free Press.
Phil Lempert, CEO of Consumer Insight, Inc., founder of supermarketguru.com and also a RetailWire BrainTrust member, isn’t sure if Farmer Jack will succeed but he believes he knows what the division of A&P and others operating in the grocery channel have been doing wrong.
“Traditional supermarkets have not had an identity,” he said.
Ultimately, said Mr. Lempert, Farmer Jack’s success will come down to whether the in-store experience matches the marketing message. “You’ve got to deliver on that promise that you set up through the advertising,” he said.
One pressure that Farmer Jack will not have to deal with is a union contract. Last year, the chain negotiated a deal with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 876 that included a 10 percent wage cut.
The union said it supports the company’s efforts to get its business turned around and to “achieve profitability and to maintain union members’ jobs.”
Moderator’s Comment: Is Farmer Jack headed in the right direction with the changes it is making in pricing, advertising and other areas of its business?
– George Anderson – Moderator
- It’s Farmer Jack recovery time – The Detroit News
- Farmer Jack is trimming store prices – The Detroit Free