It may come as a surprise to grocery chains to learn that, almost to a fault, none of them own a brand.
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. That is why we have so much consolidation in the grocery category.
Kroger, Albertsons and the other large chains simply gobble up the regional chains. And count that as growth.
But it also means the major grocery chains don't grow through preference.
Therefore, the battle for supremacy comes down to location, location, location.
Supermarkets, like their poor stepsisters the pharmacy chains, are in a rush to build more and more stores.
Groceries believe they are “the upscale choice.” But deep down they recognize the fallacy by building more and more stores.
Groceries know that they do not represent a destination — there is no sense of arrival, sense of specialness and therefore no brand.
Why is the grocery category so stale and delinquent?
Groceries differentiate themselves by restating generic category descriptions like fresh, quality, selection and fair prices.
What does this mean for the future of the category? It means the stakes are being raised because customers are demanding more.
This means existing store locations may be inadequate in the future. Bigger is not necessarily better.
Will a Starbucks coffee bar differentiate your brand? Not on your life.
Instead of adding a Starbucks coffee, ask yourself why the customer wants such an addition?
Understanding who those shoppers believes they are and what offerings might satisfy those beliefs leads to increased market share.
However, without brand knowledge, even those will simply seem like artifice. And be nothing more than pretenders to the throne.