Back to the future!
For those of you that have forgotten or were too young to care what was happening over thirteen years ago, Safeway was one of the UK’s leading grocery stores. Indeed, at one stage in its existence, it had a place in the top three in the grocery store rankings.
Originally an American store (indeed, friends tell me it still exists across the pond, though now has hefty price tags on all the goods), Safeway was established in the UK in 1962, building a good reputation as a ‘cash and carry’ store that didn’t give credit like most grocers of the time, therefore helping customers to steer clear of getting in debt.
Despite various buyouts (the Americans sold the brand to a British consortium in 1987 and more changes of hands followed), and changes in personnel at the top – specifically marketing – Safeway, with its cheery orangey/red logo and local presence making it an easily identifiable brand, held its own for over four decades. They were the first to introduce a loyalty card even ventured into the world of online shopping at the beginning of the noughties (though alas, it was short-lived).
Unfortunately, the competition became too much: they didn’t seem to manage to get the same discounts from suppliers and instead opted for large short-term product discounts. The problem there was that customers started focusing primarily on the heavily reduced items and not buying much else. Also, Asda boosted its standing in the grocery stakes and pushed Safeway into fourth place after being bought out by American big boy Walmart in 1999.
So, in 2004, we said goodbye, as Safeway sold out to Morrisons who, thanks to their purchase, tripled their market share.
Anyway, enough of the history lesson. Let’s get back to the exciting news in the present!
Over 13 years after coughing up around £3bn deal to purchase it, Morrisons is resurrecting the brand!
Sadly though, before we get too excited, it’s not the shops themselves, just a range of Safeway own-brand products that will be supplied to 1,300 convenience stores and 350 newsagents from January 2018, following a deal made with grocery chain McColl’s.
Great news for Morrisons, who will top up their market share in the grocery world and broaden their reach by venturing into wholesale supply.
And, according to chief executive Jonathan Miller: “’transformational’ for McColl’s” since they would be gaining “a long-term partner of significant scale with a growing neighbourhood convenience estate, and access to Morrisons best-in-class sourcing and manufacturing capabilities.”
I know, I know, you’re not the only ones disappointed that it’s just a product coming back and not the actual store. I didn’t have one near where I lived but it was always my favourite wine stock-up stop on my way to visit a friend in the Midlands!
Yet, Morrisons clearly believe that it is a good idea to revive the brand. But is it?
Personally, I would be a little twitchy, firstly because it’s simply branded products as opposed to an actually grocery store, so it’s not going to be as obvious and identifiable to the masses. Plus, secondly, the products will be on the shelves of convenience stores and newsagents, so are likely to carry heftier price tags than they would if they were adorning the shelves of a supermarket chain.
Like I say though, that’s just my opinion. And I can’t imagine that Morrisons have gone into this blindfolded; they must have garnered consumer feedback and opinion.
And if it works, it could be really profitable.
This profit, of course, will be driven by nostalgia, a clever tactic that can save a fortune in upfront marketing as well as getting the tills ringing as people recognise the name and start to live old memories.
People love reliving years gone by. And if a chocolate bar or tin of soup or other product can do that on a mass scale, it’s a sure-fire winner.
It’s crazy to think that brand loyalty can withstand the test of time but it does. There are many brands out there that have been around for decades, that people stick with year on year and tell their kids and grandkids and friends and neighbours about. That’s the epitome of fierce consumer loyalty.
Of course, the thing to remember is that the companies who own these brands listen to their customers, modify the products and innovate with things such as packaging to keep up with the times. Even products that stay the same have to change somehow, or we will all eventually end up stuck in the dark ages.
As the saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And Safeway – as the UK’s fourth largest grocery store – wasn’t broken; it just wanted to quit whilst its head was still held high. And £3bn probably made the decision to sell slightly easier too.
But at least it’s not like the world had fallen out of favour with the brand so, with a bit of spit and polish and a facelift, there is every chance that the brand will have people all over the UK reminiscing about ‘the time when…’ and running to their local convenience store or newsagents to pick up a Safeway branded product to take them back to that precious moment.
So, if you’re looking for a boast, perhaps it’s time to look back at your firm’s history and consider reviving a product or service that worked well for you in the past?! Everything tends to come full circle.
Of course, it’s important to understand your modern-day audience before you do: there’s no point going down the nostalgia route if all your customers from way back when have either passed on or switched allegiance.
For a better understanding of your audience – and how to proceed with your business processes based on their perspective, contact the team at The Monachie Project and we will give you focused insights into the best way forward to help you not only prosper but also build a band of fiercely loyal customers.