O my! Safeway store brands on the loose

By Burt Alper

August 7, 2008

Not long ago, it would have been far-fetched to consider a Safeway brand synonymous with “certified organic.” But the last few years have seen a mainstreaming of organic products across the board, and in-store brands are finally getting a little panache – right down to brand name creation.

Two of Safeway’s store brands, O Organics and Eating Right, found immediate success from their debut. These product brands speak to people who are looking for healthier foods that are still good deal. (And who isn’t these days?) O Organics sales reached $150 million when it launched in 2005 and increased to $400 million in 2008 while Eating Right is expected to bring in $200 million this year. In a highly unusual move, these brands soon will be showing up in competitive supermarkets, as well, in the hopes that Safeway can further expand revenues.

In-store brands are generally cheaper than outside food brands, because of lower marketing overhead. But in this case, a little added branding focus has gone a long way. O Organics, for example, is an excellent product brand name. The O, like the numeral for zero, is a transparent communication of purity, telegraphing natural, unprocessed food. Eating Right is also effective in its straightforwardness. We all know that we’re supposed to be “eating right” and the name for this line of products communicates an easy way to follow this common advice.

It will be interesting to see if other grocery stores follow in Safeway’s footsteps — increasing their naming and branding efforts, more effectively competing against national brands, and then broadening their sales scope to include other grocery chains.

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