Food Lion had it, then lost it

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

11 April 2016

Food Lion had the best lion spot, the lost it among the others

There’s no further proof that Walmart has spooked the supermarket category with its own grocery than the increased advertising presence of Food Lion.

In many areas of the country, including my own here in North Carolina, Food Lion was the low-cost provider among supermarkets. It was low down, even a little bit country. It was the place you shopped for cheap prices.

“It was emotional and I thought the grocer had hit a nice, sweet spot.”

Then Walmart moved in. Along the busiest street near me, Walmart established its grocery store just a few blocks down from a once-thriving Food Lion. In nothing time flat, that store closed.

A few years ago, the grocery chain shot back with a campaign built around a brand equity marker, the Lion. At first, it was a talking lion that told shoppers that buying at Food Lion was just good sense.

It didn’t really work because it was just telling potential customers to shop for price, a battle Walmart is sure to win.

The topsy-turvy advertising of Food Lion

But a few months ago, Food Lion went the emotional route. It kept the lion but imbued it with a sense of protection, being a guardian angel of sorts for a child. It was emotional and I thought the grocer had hit a nice, sweet spot.

Food Lion, however, was impatient. Just a few weeks later, it was back to promoting price. In its new spot, the grocer announced that it will always have fresh produce, which is a table stake. You must have fresh produce to even be considered in the first place.

Then, the ad explains that the produce is “100% fresh, or double your money back.”

I understand the instinct here. Food Lion is attempting to overcome its old reputation from a few years ago where some of its produce was not fresh. And it’s fine that it has the guarantee.

But those are not reasons to choose. As I’ve said many times before, preference is based on emotion, not product benefits. That’s the reason why we buy so many things, only to rationalize the emotional reason to choose with rational ones.

Food Lion had done something few supermarkets have attempted in the past when it went the emotional route. Now, going back to product benefits means Walmart and others will be back to closing its competitor’s stores.

See more posts in the following related categories: Food Lion Grocery Supermarkets Walmart

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