Loblaws needs to catch up with its consumers
Update: Since this post was published, an internal memo from Loblaws, obtained by Canadian Press, revealed that French's ketchup was being pulled from stores to stop the "cannibalization" of the Loblaws' brand by the Canadian product. Loblaws denies this, of course. Maybe they're smarter, and dumber, than I gave them credit for.
Loblaws had some 'splainin' to do yesterday after it pulled French's ketchup off the shelf because it wasn't a big seller. The people spoke, and the grocery chain had it back on the shelves before you could say, "Want fries with that?"
Despite its claims that it sources local whenever possible, it's quite clear that the Westons don't give a rat's ass about where they get stuff. Either that, or they simply don't pay attention to the news.
There was great uproar when Heinz took its act on the road and left Ontario throwing hundreds out of work. And yet, Heinz is still front and centre in Loblaws grocery stores. And it is regularly promoted as part of the company's PC Points Program.
French's still operates in this province, in Leamington, and still buys local tomatoes to make its condiment, yet Loblaws was quick to eighty-six the ketchup because of "poor sales".
According to the president of French's, sales of the ketchup were up four hundred times since consumers became aware that the company gives people jobs in Ontario, and supports local farmers.
Guess Galen Weston didn't get the memo.
Maybe he went to private school with the Heinz's. Maybe his dad is pals with John Kerry (husband of Teresa Heinz).
Part of the issue is that Loblaws doesn't really understand its customers.
In my local ghetto store, just last year, Loblaws spent weeks peddling Wagyu beef that is not only $55 bucks a steak, but it is also horrible for you. Our store was also flogging $50 fish, too, even though the majority of its customers are middle to lower class.
Nobody bought the stuff, until it was put on the "half off" rack. And even then it was too pricey for the local yokels.
Another problem, at least in my store, is that President's Choice introduces great products, hooks us on them, then stops selling them. Case in point: Naan Rounds which I use every single morning as part of my healthy eating regime. They are perfect for homemade Egg McMuffins because they aren't too small like, well, English muffins, and they properly hold an egg and some ham.
I can eat one of these at my desk without all the goo dripping down my elbows.
But do you think I can find them?
Last week, I had to go to four stores to find them among probably 50 variations on bread that most people don't eat.
I was told they weren't big sellers.
So now, when I see them, I grab four or five packages.
The reason they can't sell these is because they don't know how to market them.
I've told lots of people about them, and they said, "hey, great idea, I'm going to try that."
Yet I've never seen anybody in the store doing a demonstration.
Why a demonstration? Because unlike English muffins, you use two piece of naan bread. You don't have to cut them and your fingers in half to get to the deliciousness.
If Loblaws figured out how to promote these, like it does a lot of really weird and sketchy products, it would sell a boat load of them.
People might even put French's Ketchup on them.