Are foodies transforming grocery messaging?

Oct 03, 2014

With the pervasiveness of foodie culture, Loblaw Cos. Ltd. is shifting its messaging from helping consumers discover new tastes to using storytelling to celebrate, engage and spark conversations around food.

That viewpoint is driving the modernization of the President’s Choice private label brand in what Loblaw is calling the most comprehensive campaign in its history. Under the tagline, "Crave More," the 30-year-old brand is encouraging customers "to expect more from their food" with Canadians, according to a company news release, "caring and conversing more about the value, quality, taste, sources, ingredients and excitement of what they eat."

"Today’s customer craves more distinct and exotic flavors," said Galen Weston, executive chairman and president, in the statement. "They crave more knowledge about what is healthy and what is not. They crave information about where their food comes from and how it is made. And they are engaging every day in passionate conversations about food quality, taste and trust."

"This new approach is to elevate the brand from a packaged goods food brand to a lifestyle brand," Uwe Stueckmann, Loblaw’s senior vice-president of marketing, told The Globe & Mail. He said past marketing was "very much like a product [focused] brand."

[Image: Presidents Choice]

The first 60-second ad celebrates food discovery — "from the first time someone harvested honey from a buzzing hive, heated corn until it popped, and more." The ad closes with Mr. Weston in the President’s Choice kitchen declaring, "If you don’t search for more, you’ll never find it." A second spot promotes the natural colors of food, and the removal of all artificial colors and flavors from all President’s Choice products.

The President’s Choice website ( is being transformed into a foodie online community now oriented to initiate and host exploration of food trends, led by video, editorial and images. The site will amplify food related social media posts and discussions to drive conversation.

Tapping Google search insights, a Food Pulse Index on the website will be the first to track food trends nationally and by province — again, to encourage engagement. Insights will be grouped by theme, search trends will be assessed against thousands of related words and terms, information will be assessed regionally and nationally, and the results will be presented visually and with editorial at

It is expected that the trends and conversation on will help influence President’s Choice marketing and product developers.

Is foodie culture pervasive enough to merit a drastic change in messaging between grocers and consumers? Would a President’s Choice type digital community and Food Pulse Index appeal to American consumers?

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7 Comments on "Are foodies transforming grocery messaging?"

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Ryan Mathews
8 years 3 months ago

The answer to the first question is no based on the choice of the word “drastic.”

The answer to the second question is a modified yes—it would appeal to a segment of American consumers.

But, the premise is flawed. This isn’t a new idea.

Those of us old enough to remember Dave Nichol, the man who launched both the President’s Choice brand and mythology, will recall that President’s Choice always had a “foodie” approach.

Nichol, to my mind still the greatest brander in the history of food, was the man after all who introduced a bolognese line for dogs, claimed to have perfected water and created stories around food items so successfully that his “Insider’s Report”—really a Canadian version of the Trader Joe promotional flyer—became, for a time, the largest circulating periodical in Canada.

Does it work? Well, the line has been around for 30 years.

Ian Percy
8 years 3 months ago

With two of the three items in today’s RetailWire being about Canada it can’t help but be a good day. Oh Canada!

The new Loblaw story puts the focus on the customer experience instead of on the company and its products. That is always a winning strategy. Sounds like it will educate, entice and stir imagination. Brilliant.

I have to say that one of very few downsides in moving to the USA 17 years ago is the lack of easy access to all the President’s Choice products. “PC” was the outcome of Dave Nichol’s genius some thirty (30!) years ago.

Mel Kleiman
Mel Kleiman
8 years 3 months ago

This looks like a home run to me. I am far from what I would call a foodie, but it seems that everyone around me is one or is becoming one. Food is no longer something we put on the table just to eat, it has become something that we experience. If Loblaw can truly deliver the message and help people to appreciate and enjoy food even more, this is going to be a real winner. Oh and yes, it will be easily transferred to the U.S. market.

Dave Wendland
8 years 3 months ago

The foodie culture is no longer a blip on the radar screen. I believe it to be a revolution that is not only affecting the way messages are delivered to consumers, but also the merits and honesty of brands themselves.

Savvy consumers—globally—are expecting more. Sincerity around farm-to-table movements, reliability of naturals/organics and knowledge of product sourcing has become part of the dialogue. Retailers who recognize this and consistently create meaningful conversations with their consumers about these topics will be clear winners.

Lee Kent
8 years 3 months ago

Yep, I agree that the foodie culture is becoming more than just a blip on the screen. Especially with the interest shown by millennials.

With budgets tight, many are looking at food as more of an experience — sort of like the French do. Always loved that. You don’t do dinner and a movie. That makes dinner just a commodity. Dinner should be an experience — you relax and enjoy.

So bottom line, a change in food messaging is sure to be a winner, for my 2 cents!

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
8 years 3 months ago

What do we mean by the foodie culture? Is it an interest by more people in gourmet/exotic/unusual food? Is it an interest by more people in expensive and difficult-to-obtain ingredients? Is it an interest in a great variety of flavors?

There is an increase of consumers in all three of these groups. The first two may be able and willing to pay higher prices, so the groups would be smaller. The last group has increased as the number of people from ethnic groups share their food, open restaurants, open specialty food stores, and have their food integrated into mainstream food stores. This is a large group, and if we include this group as foodies then this approach certainly would appeal to American consumers, especially in urban markets.

Graeme McVie
Graeme McVie
8 years 3 months ago
Larger grocers have not traditionally catered to foodies, while premium players like Eataly have capitalized on the higher bracket of the segment, creating urban oases that blend restaurants, grocery retail and food education into a glamorous Italian culinary experience and an equally glamorous check size. Loblaw’s new story behind PC not only brings the foodie culture to the supermarket shopper, but also makes the experience accessible for other customer segments. Essentially, President’s Choice is positioning itself as a gateway brand to advanced culinary knowledge. There will be someone cooking the most delicious gourmet meal for a dinner party a few years down the road, thanking PC for introducing them to the world of gastronomy. But the success of this approach lies in a clear understanding of customers’ needs and where options such as this would be most relevant. An increasing number of food consumers are more conscious and demanding today, curious about new flavors, aware of sustainable agriculture, demanding about quality. As Loblaw looks to reap the rewards of higher President’s Choice sales with efforts… Read more »

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