Safeway Looks to Help Shoppers Eat Right

Discussion
Jul 18, 2007

By George Anderson

Safeway’s new store brand Eating Right label is designed to make it easier for consumers to make healthier eating choices with packaging that uses color-coded dots to alert them to important product attributes.

For example, a red dot signifies the product contains whole grains. A yellow dot indicates the item is low in cholesterol. Light blue means the product is low in fat, etc.

“This line helps consumers address their specific dietary needs,” Teena Massingill, a spokesperson for Safeway, told the San Mateo County Times. “If you’re limiting your fat or sodium, you’ll be able to easily identify the best foods for you because the specific health attributes are listed on the front of the package.”

Mike Reed, a consumer from Walnut Creek, Cal., is the type of consumer that Safeway is seeking to attract with its Eating Right store brand. Mr. Reed reads labels to make sure he’s consuming the products that will enable him to achieve his health goals.

“I want to incorporate more fiber and protein to stay healthy,” he told the County Times. “I also make sure sugar is not the first or second ingredient listed.”

Mr. Reed had not yet purchased an Eating Right product but indicated the ingredients and packaging approach Safeway was taking was likely to lead him to give the store brand a try.

While saying she would prefer that consumers focused more of their food purchasing on fresh fruits and vegetables, Jo Ann Hattner, a registered dietitian who teaches nutrition at Stanford Medical School, gave Safeway high marks for the approach it was taking with the Eating Right line.

“(Safeway is) initiating some thought about the nutritional components of food, and the supermarket is a good place for that because that is where people are making their food purchases,” she said.

Discussion Questions: What will the Eating Right store brand mean for how consumers perceive Safeway? How would you rate the current state of Safeway’s store brand program with the Eating Right, O Organics, Safeway Select, Rancher’s Reserve and other lines?

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15 Comments on "Safeway Looks to Help Shoppers Eat Right"


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Frederick Chang
Guest
Frederick Chang
14 years 10 months ago

I think that Safeway’s Eating Right line is sending the right message to consumers: “We’re here to help you make the right food choices.” Given the amount of obfuscating marketing-speak on packaged goods today, consumers will enjoy having some pointers in the right direction. The brand’s clean packaging and simple design also work to elevate the quality perception of the brand.

Steven Roelofs
Guest
Steven Roelofs
14 years 10 months ago

I agree with “Liatt” that grocery shopping has become too time consuming. Though I like the local remodeled Dominick’s Fresh Store (Safeway) compared to what it was like before, it is still at least twice as large as the type of store I prefer to shop in, yet still often does not have what I want.

Labeling products as healthy doesn’t help me if my eyes still have to scan and rescan and rescan the shelves to find the product. What would help me immensely would be to group all the O Organics products together in one location, a store within a store, so I can get in and get out without having to walk down what seems like a mile’s worth of aisles for a basket of just two dozen items.

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
14 years 10 months ago

Grocery shopping and label reading are just getting to be way too complicated and too time consuming. Put on the magnifying reading glasses. Is the item low fat? Low sodium? Sugar free? What’s the expiration date? Low carb? High fiber? Calorie count per serving? Organic? Gluten free? Made in China?

Don’t get me wrong–information is power–but most people just want to buy safe and nutritious products and do not have extra time to spend hours in their grocery store doing primary research. No wonder many folks who do actually know better, just give up and pick up a bag of fast food on the way home from work.

Let’s give Safeway an E for effort for recognizing that there’s a problem. But, will Safeway’s color coded dot scheme crack the code? Will it be the Rosetta Stone? Not if one is colorblind.

Kai Clarke
Guest
14 years 10 months ago

This is a good effort, but let’s be clear about its impact–it will not have any impact on consumers eating better. Believing that it would is ignoring history and the impact that having information available will cease to have on the consumer. Consumers have had product information available to them for years, yet have ignored it and have continued to eat poorly, ignoring all of the clear benefits that this information imparts. Part of this is driven by lack of education, part by information, but the greatest problem is the inability to change poor health and eating habits. All of the information in the world will not change this. Americans have had more and more information on how to improve their eating habits and their lifestyles, yet we are now facing a generation of children who for the first time will die at a younger age than their parents because of poor nutrition and health.

James Tenser
Guest
14 years 10 months ago

The Eating Right line will not play well with the most health-aware shoppers if its offerings are laden with sodium, refined flour and sugars. A single-descriptor like “low fat”–with or without colored dot–simply does not convey enough attribute information to support informed purchase decisions. A sack of sugar is fat-free, but it’s pure calories (and poison to a diabetic).

However, I believe a color-coded signaling system on packages is a good idea in principle. What if every label had an array of three or four dots–a “stoplight” element with words and colors for sodium content, fat content, sugar content, total calories? This would permit fast scanning at the shelf for items that meet shopper requirements.

In many respects Safeway has been doing a great job with its PL program and overall store positioning. The Eating Right dots are a promising development that may merit further refinement to truly deliver for shoppers.

Jack Rhodes
Guest
Jack Rhodes
14 years 10 months ago

Sounds like Safeway has been spying on Tesco…. Yes, Tesco and other chains in the UK all have information on their packaging that tells you what the package provides–right on the front on every package! I’m sure when Tesco invades the US, they will keep with that practice. UK’s Sainsbury stores private label “Be Good To Yourself” sounds a lot like O.

Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
14 years 10 months ago

One of the keys to Safeway’s success is how it incorporates the organic products. Consumers, in general, are aware of the organic business and its benefits. If Safeway is only including its ‘Eat Right’, a regular national brand, and its Safeway brands to its shoppers, the market offering alternatives aren’t complete.

Hopefully, Safeway did some consumer/shopper research to answer key questions relative to organic products in the mix. Hmmmmmmm

Another MAD MARKETING analysis that may lack the right research and marketing approach.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
14 years 10 months ago

Safeway is using a safe way to show Safeway shoppers the health values of its private labels; also to show its concern for consumer health issues. While not a completely new idea it is a another step forward for Safeway, but not necessarily a “giant step for mankind.”

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
14 years 10 months ago

If Safeway has identified that most of their consumers are purchasing “healthy” food, then developing a method of assisting consumers in making those choices should be successful. The better the system is in matching the choices that consumers have been making, the more successful the system will be. The big challenge will be educating consumers so that the understand what information this new method is conveying to them. For example, I have seen and even purchased some of the new products and had no idea that there were dots indicating the characteristics of the healthy products until I read today’s commentary.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
14 years 10 months ago

House brands are always tempting for consumers because of price positioning. I think there may be some hesitation though as customers may question quality or equality to the name brand. Safeway is taking their Eating Right label to the next level by giving consumers a quick and efficient way to understand the product. Overall, I think Safeway is doing a decent job with their house brands. Their packaging and branding conveys premium product at house brand prices which is always a bonus for the consumer. Getting into the organics market with their O brand is a huge step up.

Richard Alleger
Guest
Richard Alleger
14 years 10 months ago

This is a good idea. The FMI/Prevention Shopping For Health annual survey has concluded year in and year out that the education and information has to be imparted at point of sale. Shoppers have many reasons for starting on the road to a healthy lifestyle and all that entails. When it comes for shopping for food, the shoppers have said, help me where I shop.

Dan Nelson
Guest
Dan Nelson
14 years 10 months ago

Safeway’s approach to color coded labeling on nutritional aspects of the products in their line makes great sense and progresses their focus on healthy living to consumers. The combination of shopper ease and the enhanced message around eating right clearly signals to consumers that Safeway is the place to shop for health conscious consumers. It says we care about your health and show it in what we sell and how we advertise.

Safeway is staking their claim around this consumer segment, and doing a lot of marketing to drive home that message. A smart play, since wellness awareness and the importance of self health maintenance will expand dramatically with the continued escalation of health care costs and the increasing changes in variable health care premiums based on your state of health.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 10 months ago

Safeway’s Eating Right is similar to Hannaford’s Guiding Stars. Both programs aim to guide shoppers to healthier choices. Hannaford’s system is more comprehensive, since it includes almost the whole store. Safeway’s program just includes private label items.

David Biernbaum
Guest
14 years 10 months ago

Safeway’s “Eating Right” label is constructive for the chain’s overall image insofar that consumers will initially feel positive enough about it to give it a try for its usefulness. Historically, other retail chains that have attempted this route did fall short in the long run because the labels in effect became endorsements which were stretched out too liberally and therefore lost credibility and value. I would like to see programs like this go beyond just foods and begin to include health information for ingredients in soaps and detergents, HBC, household goods, etc.

Jerry Tutunjian
Guest
Jerry Tutunjian
14 years 10 months ago

A great idea. Congratulations to Safeway. This really raises the profile of the chain as a retailer seriously committed to the health and welfare of its customers. It almost closes the loop in caring.

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