The Giant Company on Monday announced a new family-focused brand platform that will lead future marketing efforts and underscores a series of operational updates for the company, including a refreshed product assortment, online enhancements and additional store services.
“For Today’s Table” emphasizes families spending time together and connecting over food — themes that have become particularly resonant during the COVID-19 pandemic, when so many consumers are dining at home and spending more of their food dollars at grocery stores.
Decor at Giant and Martin's stores as well as delivery and transport vehicles will be updated with the tagline and family-centered graphics over the next several months as various product and service upgrades simultaneously roll out, including enhanced meal options and new stations like on-tap kombucha. New advertising will be broadcast across social platforms, digital and television, kicking off with a TV spot on Sept. 3. A preview of the branding spotlights five families as they make pancakes in the morning, hula hoop in the driveway or enjoy a picnic meal in the yard.
“For Today’s Table” completes the rebranding process for The Giant Company that began earlier this year when it rolled out a new name and logo, President and CEO Nicholas Bertram said in an interview.
"We wanted to create a brand that would stand the test of time, one that would become really accessible to changing consumers and unique in our markets," he said.
Bertram said Giant developed the platform before the novel coronavirus hit the U.S., and that the event has quashed any lingering doubts he had about the campaign's effectiveness. He also believes the platform will resonate beyond the pandemic.
“[For Today’s Table] didn’t change, but COVID-19 did bring a confirmation that we never expected,” Bertram said. “We thought we might be taking a bit more of a risk back in February, but this is proof it’s not risky and actually we’ve seen consumer behaviors change.”
The platform and its accompanying updates seek to reach legacy shoppers while also doubling down on the most promising group for the company: young moms. The grocer initially launched an in-depth research program in 2017, and Bertam said that in diving through customer data, focus group findings and other materials, The Giant Company found that these consumers represent the future for the grocer, and that they’re looking for easy, healthy and creative ways to put meals on the table.
The data moreover pointed to a shopping style that dads, grandparents and other heads of family have also adopted centered on fresh convenience and health for themselves and their loved ones.
“We’re really betting the farm on families, to be real candid,” Bertram said.
Heating up meals and store remodels
The refocused branding has spread internally in recent months and has informed recent initiatives like the company’s new “Cook-In-Bag” meal program, which serves up a seasoned protein along with cooking instructions. In the coming months, The Giant Company will build out more meal options, including meal kits and its Meal Deals program, which bundles together meal-making products the grocer already sells along with a recipe and offers them online and in stores at a discount.
These programs will all come together under a new umbrella brand called “All Set” that identifies all of the grocer's meal solutions across its store departments, in circulars and online. "It’s communication and marketing, as well as the start of an umbrella where we can place our current and future meal solutions for [the customer] and her family," a Giant Company spokesperson said.
This fall, The Giant Company will test a partnership with Saladworks at its flagship store in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. The salad chain, which has linked up with other grocers including ShopRite, serves up full-service customized salads at a time when many salad bars have been forced to close. The addition is part of a full remodel for the 90,000-square-foot Camp Hill store — its first in 15 years.
"We've been trying to figure out, how can we create solutions that aren't kind of a rinse and repeat of what you see in other places, but are unique inside of our space?" Bertram said.
Stores will test out other services like on-tap kombucha and smoothie bars, echoing recent updates to Giant’s sister chain Stop & Shop. Store assortments will change, too, with The Giant Company devoting more space to growing categories like plant-based foods, international foods, specialty items like gourmet cheese and health and beauty products. Private label will also continue to be a focus, with hundreds of new products rolling out over the next year, including a line of crustless sandwiches from its Nature’s Promise Kids brand.
Altogether, The Giant Company is positioning itself to better compete in battleground markets like the Philadelphia area where Amazon, Aldi and ShopRite are also ramping up. And its strategy is debuting as other grocers are also refining their marketing efforts and assortments to keep up with fast-evolving consumer habits. Kroger rolled out its "Fresh for Everyone" brand platform last fall, while discount retailers like Aldi and Grocery Outlet are expanding their offerings of fresh, healthy products.
Earlier this year, The Giant Company announced it would step up the pace of its historic remodels, and it remains on track to complete the 35 updates it planned at that time. Twenty-four remodels will be complete by the end of this year, with the remaining coming in the first half of 2021.
Those remodels, which are separate from the new branding updates, include adding more Beer and Wine Eateries — where sales are currently outpacing total store sales by as much as three times, Bertram said — refreshing the look of its dairy and deli departments and making other productivity enhancements.
Bringing the banner to life
In e-commerce, The Giant Company early this spring unveiled a new site and app for its Giant and Martin's brands that targets faster ordering and full integration of its Choice Rewards program, which launched late last year. Bertram said the company has seen significant growth across ordering channels since the pandemic began, but in pickup in particular. It hired 4,000 workers during peak demand to fill orders, and soon stores will roll out new technology to cut down on click-and-collect wait times — something other regional chains have recently introduced. It's also lighting up its Direct online service, which offers same-day delivery and pickup, at 10 additional locations in Pennsylvania and West Virginia this year, bringing the total service footprint to 158 of the company’s 190 stores.
The pandemic has significantly boosted sales for The Giant Company, but it hasn’t altogether been a boon for the grocer. It’s had to delay store openings, including that of its Riverwalk flagship store in Philadelphia, which was supposed to open this fall but will instead push back "a couple months," Bertram said. The company will debut just one new store this year, a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania location that will open its doors Oct. 23.
The virus has also disrupted the expansion of Giant Heirloom Market, the specialty format Giant rolled out early last year, by delaying the opening of the fourth Giant Heirloom Market in Philadelphia and pushing back construction of other stores, Bertram said.
Bertram said two of the Giant Heirloom Markets that are located in residential buildings have seen strong sales lately, but indicated a third location near the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel hasn’t performed as well with schools being remote. He said the format has been an important testing ground for items like plant-based products, and that the company hasn’t yet discussed moving the concept into the Philadelphia suburbs or other cities.
“We hope to be able to offer that as a growth vehicle in the future,” Bertram said.
In addition to refining its marketing, store assortment and services, The Giant Company is also offering new benefits for employees, many of whom have been working on the frontlines during the pandemic. This includes Giant University, a learning lab focused on advancing associates’ careers through skills and leadership training. The company is also offering employees free access to a six-week online stress management course offered by the Cleveland Clinic.
The Giant Company's raft of updates are part of parent company Ahold Delhaize's push to refresh its U.S banners amid a dynamic East Coast retailing landscape. Food Lion has seen a notable lift in comparable store sales since launching a chain-wide remodel program in 2014, while Stop & Shop is seeing strong results from store updates beginning in Hartford, Connecticut. All of the company's banners have rolled out updated apps and websites, new consumer technology like scan-and-go checkout, and pushed for supply chain efficiency through self distribution and automated systems.
Bertram credited Ahold Delhaize's focus on sharing insights as well as resources across banners.
"After the merger of Ahold and Delhaize, it became really important to bring each of the brands alive in each of their markets," he said. "We have five brands we're very proud of. We have a lot of things that we share at Ahold Delhaize that it gives us scale and expertise that we wouldn't have on our own."