- Ahold USA’s “Fresh Stories,” a series of short online videos highlighting local producers for the company’s Stop & Shop, Giant Landover, Giant/Martin’s and Peapod brands have been viewed more than 14 million times, according to Progressive Grocer.
- Each of the documentary videos, which were produced by agency Viscul Creative, features producers talking about how their businesses started and how they’re supplying Ahold’s stores. During the past year, the work has garnered nine awards from regional, national and international organizations.
- “Customers want to know about the who, where, what and how of their food,” Amy Hahn, a senior vice president of marketing for Ahold USA. “Fresh Stories is a great forum for customers of our brands to learn about the companies and individuals who supply items they purchase at our stores.
The popularity of Ahold USA’s supplier profiles speaks to the high demand for local products both within the company and nationwide. The U.S. Agriculture Department predicts sales of locally produced foods, which hit $12 billion in 2014, will surge to $20 billion by 2019. Management consulting firm AT Kearney, meanwhile, found 78% of consumers said they will pay more for local products throughout the store.
But these profiles are about more than just promoting local fish, produce, flowers and more. They’re about humanizing a very large and imposing supermarket company. Ahold USA controls more than 780 stores across four regional divisions, and employs 115,000 workers. It’s part of the larger Ahold Delhaize corporation, which collectively runs 6,500 stores across the U.S. and Europe.
Ahold USA’s scale certainly makes it efficient, but it doesn’t give the company much of an identity. This may seem like a trivial matter, but at a time when consumers are demanding not just low prices but more personalized products and experiences, it’s important retailers work hard to communicate their values and how they operate.
For years, grocers have profiled their local producers, often placing signs in stores telling the stories behind a particular farm, brewery or bake house. Some have gone a step further by bringing producers into their stores and launching marketing initiatives similar to Ahold USA’s “Fresh Ideas.” Earlier this year, Kroger launched a website that, in addition to producer profiles and behind-the-scenes stories, included quirky guest posts from employees.
Initiatives like these can make retailers feel more accessible to shoppers, leading to increased levels of trust that can turn into valuable repeat customers. Grocers need to make sure they’re following through on their stated values and commitments. Despite all the marketing they do around local products, for instance, supermarkets are often sourcing these products far outside the range of what their customers would consider “local,” research shows. Still, Ahold's producer profiles are a smart way to tap into the buying local trend popular with most supermarkets today and help differentiate the retailer, even slightly, from other competitors.