As Albertsons aims to continue evolving its private brands to better resonate with consumers, the grocery company has recently revamped its O Organics line with redesigned packaging.
The new look taps into bright colors and keeps the identifiable “O” in the logo but gives it a modern take, Brandon Brown, senior vice president of Own Brands at Albertsons, said in an interview. The brand only carries products that are USDA-certified organic, non-GMO and grown without synthetic pesticides.
“O Organics always has a look and feel that our customers recognize, but, to be honest, it’s stale,” Brown said about the former look. “It kind of has this farmhouse, old-farming feel to it and it’s just not who our customers are today.”
Consumer testing found that customers primarily recognize the big “O” and bright colors, and that they wanted a more contemporary design, Brown said, noting Albertsons is going for “fun but still familiar” with vibrant colors and modern elements.
“I love the way it looks now because it is bold purple and these really bright colors that just pop on shelf,” Brown said. “And it just stands out, especially [since] a lot of organic and natural products have this kind of a little bit of dull look.”
Launched by Safeway in 2005, O Organics was one of the first store brands to focus on natural and organic items. Following that chain’s acquisition by Albertsons in 2015, the line has spread across numerous banners but has mostly retained its focus on a “very natural, close to the farm” approach to branding, Brown said.
That strategy risks looking out of touch with shoppers, particularly as specialty store brands like Kroger’s Simple Truth and Whole Foods’ 365 have streamlined their looks and become powerhouse sellers for those companies.
While organic products have long had a reputation as better for people and better for the environment, in recent years organic has gone more mainstream as concerns linger over affordability and access.
During the past nearly two decades, O Organics has grown in both sales and the number of products, now totaling more than 1,500 items including fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and meats, cage-free certified eggs, snacks, baby food and more. In 2018, the store brand achieved the $1 billion sales milestone, becoming the fourth Albertsons private brand to do so.
The redesign is also coming at a time when consumers have flocked to private brands for not only cooking and hosting events at home, but also to save money during months-long high food prices. Thanks to innovation across the grocery industry, private brands are no longer just seen as lower-cost alternatives, Brown said.
Brown pointed to Albertsons’ imported pasta sauces under its Signature Reserve line and Soleil line of flavored sparkling water as areas where the grocery company has shone with innovation and unique offerings.
The O Organics redesign was “well underway” when Brown started at Albertsons in November after more than a decade at McKinsey & Company. The rollout of the new look is currently happening category by category across the grocery company’s store banners, which include Albertsons, Safeway, Vons and Jewel-Osco, and will be completed this year, Brown said.
To accompany the introduction of the new look, Albertsons has updated marketing materials and a social media campaign. Three 15-second videos are each devoted to spotlighting specific traits of the brand: affordability, availability across store aisles and timelessness.
“O is for Organics in every aisle,” reads one marketing visual.
In a bid to reach younger consumers, who are “driving a lot of growth” in O Organics, Brown said, the grocer’s #WakeUpOrganic social media campaign this April links to the grocer’s Organic Breakfast month promotion. The campaign is asking people to spotlight their favorite organic breakfast foods.
“Organic foods really started with fresh produce but now consumers are making entire meals using organic ingredients,” Brown said. “So breakfast is a great example where organic food spans across milk, dairy, coffee, cereals, granola and more. And brands such as O Organics have made that more affordable, more accessible.”
In recent years, Albertsons has added plant-based frozen meals to its O Organics line. The grocer has its eye on further private brand innovation in the frozen category, particularly around ethnic flavors, Brown said.
“Frozen food is always been a big category and [we’ve] started seeing a lot of innovation from more ethnic cuisines” such as Asian and South American options, Brown said.