Front and Center

Our first Center Store Trend Alert e-newsletter for 2009 covers some exciting developments in the center store realm, including high-profile rebranding initiatives by Marcal and ConAgra Foods for their Small Steps and Healthy Choice product lines, respectively. Even more audaciously, Kraft has rolled out a complete facelift of its entire brand, based on the theme "Make Today Delicious."

These changes are unsurprising in the wake of several important consumer trends currently impacting the marketplace: shoppers’ desire for the best value for their money [m] a quest made even more urgent by the state of the economy; an increasing preoccupation with nutritionally sound, better-for-you foods that not only control or alleviate certain health conditions, but may also even prevent them; and a greater commitment than ever before to sustainable products.

Small Steps certainly addresses the sustainability factor. Although Marcal has been manufacturing its paper goods from recycled materials for over 50 years, the company was eager to highlight its green activities with a renamed, redesigned product, while at the same time stressing the unchanged affordability and high quality of the line.

Over at ConAgra, in addition to new varieties and innovative packaging, the revamped Healthy Choice line is rolling out options offering what it calls “proactive nutrition,” as a way to satisfy shoppers’ simultaneous concerns about staving off serious illness at a wallet-friendly price. The company admits that its rebranding effort is an attempt to capture purchasers beyond its core buyers: health-conscious, younger shoppers who won’t sacrifice taste for nutrition.

Kraft, meanwhile, decided to rethink its very approach to business. "During the past two years, we've built a solid foundation by reinvesting in our brands, putting a new organization in place and improving our cost structure," explained company CEO Irene Rosenfeld. "As the next step in our turnaround, we're adding three new ingredients to our recipe for success -- a higher purpose that acts as a common call to action, values in action that guide our behavior and a new look and feel to visually depict our renewed energy." The visual symbol of that energy is a brand-new logo featuring a smile and a colorful flavor burst.

With consumers watching their pennies more closely than ever in this economic environment, look for more CPG companies [m] and some retailers’ private label lines as well [m] to rejigger products and corporate strategy to give shoppers the biggest bang for their buck. The Center Store Trend Alert e-newsletter will stay on the case and keep you posted.
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