Save Mart phasing out Market Essentials

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timanny
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Re: Save Mart phasing out Market Essentials

Post by timanny »

storewanderer wrote: October 31st, 2020, 11:32 pm
Alpha8472 wrote: October 31st, 2020, 9:14 pm The Food Club brand seems to have a very nice selection of products. It would be a vast improvement over Sunny Select.

https://foodclubbrand.com/
Food Club is quite good. Much improved package designs from when Scolaris carried it in NV in the early 00's, though even then I recall a pretty large mix of items and do not recall any quality issues. I was really disappointed to see Western Family discontinued and replaced with Food Club at the AFS-Utah-supplied independent stores, but as the dust settled, the last few Western Family items went away (there are still a few randoms like school supplies sitting around some of the stores), and more and more Food Club items showed up, it became very clear that TopCo has put a lot into this Food Club label, its mix, and its package design. The packages are appealing to the eye with attractive coloring and graphics.

A chain the size of Save Mart should have its own private label but the unique thing with Save Mart is they are running under 3 distinct banners (4 if you count that one Maxx Value Foods in Modesto) so it would not make sense to do a banner brand. Save Mart has never had any items with the "Save Mart" label on them, though Lucky prior to 1999 had a large private label program with its brand. So they have to do some generic thing like Sunny Select that makes sense to run across banners. It may have made sense if they had committed to 100% Sunny Select but they haven't really done that, going back and forth on labels, especially the past few years, to the point where their private label program is confusing and there is no clear line what any of their brands stand for (are they better than name brand, equal to name brand, hard value items at the lowest price but not the best quality?). At this point- time to go all in on that Food Club label for food and just go with that.
Dumb question, but does the Save Mart name really have any value anymore? It used to when it was a Central Valley-only chain, but then they tried to monopolize the grocery business in their core markets (particularly Stockton), then couldn't compete with Walmart and Winco causing their store count in those markets to go down. Meanwhile, Safeway made a comeback in the Valley and Raley's stayed strong. Save Mart in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s was similar to Stater Bros, but not so much anymore. If Albertsons didn't still have the rights in the southern part of the valley (Tulare down to Tehachapi), would it maybe be beneficial to rebrand the whole chain as Lucky? (Not Lucky California, as that's an operation tailor-made for the Bay Area) I say this because the biggest market with the Save Mart brand is Sacramento, which had no stores before the 2000s, whereas Lucky operated there for decades and was very popular. Is it feasible to operate the way they do in Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto for the sake of regional cohesion, when Stockton and Modesto don't even care anymore? I've been gone from there quite awhile so tell me if I'm missing something.
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Re: Save Mart phasing out Market Essentials

Post by storewanderer »

timanny wrote: November 12th, 2020, 7:00 pm
Dumb question, but does the Save Mart name really have any value anymore? It used to when it was a Central Valley-only chain, but then they tried to monopolize the grocery business in their core markets (particularly Stockton), then couldn't compete with Walmart and Winco causing their store count in those markets to go down. Meanwhile, Safeway made a comeback in the Valley and Raley's stayed strong. Save Mart in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s was similar to Stater Bros, but not so much anymore. If Albertsons didn't still have the rights in the southern part of the valley (Tulare down to Tehachapi), would it maybe be beneficial to rebrand the whole chain as Lucky? (Not Lucky California, as that's an operation tailor-made for the Bay Area) I say this because the biggest market with the Save Mart brand is Sacramento, which had no stores before the 2000s, whereas Lucky operated there for decades and was very popular. Is it feasible to operate the way they do in Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto for the sake of regional cohesion, when Stockton and Modesto don't even care anymore? I've been gone from there quite awhile so tell me if I'm missing something.
I think the ship has sailed on rebranding everything to Lucky. That is what they should have done, first with every Albertsons they bought, then considered doing it to the rest of their stores.

Save Mart doesn't have many stores left in Sacramento under its name. I think there are only 4 stores left in Sacramento proper (Folsom Blvd., Gerber, Fair Oaks Blvd., Kiefer) and few in the immediate suburbs (1 in Elk Grove, 1 in Carmichael, 1 in Roseville, 1 in Rocklin). A few more in the not so immediate suburbs (1 in Davis, 1 in Marysville, 1 in Auburn, 1 in Galt an original Save Mart, 2 in Placerville). Of that group they have not yet remodeled Gerber, Carmichael, Roseville, Rocklin, Galt, Marysville, Davis, or either Placerville store. Elk Grove was just remodeled over the summer. I think they are going to remodel the large Placerville Store soon since Target moved into the former Kmart in hopes of reviving that store which at one time did well (all the customers have been across the street at Safeway the past 12 years).

At this point I think their remodel program has helped. And for me to say this, believe me, they have made some real improvements. The remodeled Save Mart Stores aren't bad (really). The store in North Carson City which was a 2003 Albertsons and about as good as it got by Save Mart standards even before remodel, I dare to say, after remodel, is actually a very good store, maybe even excellent. Some of their remodels are better than others (I'm not thrilled with either remodel they've done in Reno which were to a 1992 and a 1995 Albertsons, but they are better now than they were before). Their remodel of a late 90's Albertsons in Sparks looks pretty good. Their product quality on their entire perimeter is actually pretty decent once you get past some rotation issues which seem to have improved greatly over the past six months since the stores are obviously busier. It isn't as good as Raleys, they still have pricing issues (this seems to vary by store), but they are running a much better store now than they were 5-10 years ago. The unremodeled stores are still pretty awful and not doing much business. If Save Mart can get its whole store fleet remodeled and continue to benefit from a pandemic that sends more customers its way, it may have a fighting chance.
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Re: Save Mart phasing out Market Essentials

Post by timanny »

They were never going to actually rebrand everything as Lucky. Pride wouldn't let them, just like pride convinced Albertsons to eliminate the Lucky name in the first place, which nearly destroyed their company and caused it split in half, with the "lesser" company actually being the better run one and buying the other one in order to reunify.
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Re: Save Mart phasing out Market Essentials

Post by HCal »

My understanding is that they have the right to use the Lucky brand only in the area where the Albertsons division that they acquired was operating. So this would cause issues in places like Bakersfield and Tehachapi, which were part of Albertsons' Southern California division and went to Supervalu rather than LLC.

I think the Save Mart brand is still fairly strong in many parts of the central valley, particularly Fresno, Visalia and Modesto. I don't know about Sacramento, perhaps Lucky would have been better there.

As for Sunny Select, I think it's your average private label brand, comparable to Great Value or Kroger products. Now that they own it entirely, they don't need Market Essentials anymore.
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Re: Save Mart phasing out Market Essentials

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HCal wrote: July 11th, 2021, 11:45 pm My understanding is that they have the right to use the Lucky brand only in the area where the Albertsons division that they acquired was operating. So this would cause issues in places like Bakersfield and Tehachapi, which were part of Albertsons' Southern California division and went to Supervalu rather than LLC.

I think the Save Mart brand is still fairly strong in many parts of the central valley, particularly Fresno, Visalia and Modesto. I don't know about Sacramento, perhaps Lucky would have been better there.

As for Sunny Select, I think it's your average private label brand, comparable to Great Value or Kroger products. Now that they own it entirely, they don't need Market Essentials anymore.
Lucky would have been the better name to use in Sacramento. Save Mart has so few stores left there, I think their market share in Sacramento is actually less than Ralphs had back when they exited the market. Save Mart has a handfull of high performing stores in Sacramento area (Folsom Blvd., Auburn) though. I think the various Food Maxx locations around Sacramento also do relatively well.

Sunny Select is still only represented in certain product categories... no name generic items in other categories... Topco stock items in other categories... it is still not clear to me what Save Mart's private label strategy on grocery is going forward is. They should just switch everything to Food Club and eliminate Sunny Select entirely. If they want to have a local/regional focused brand they can re-launch Pacific Coast as that type of a brand. Given their size and presence in California they may actually be able to do quite interesting things with a local/regional brand like that. Give up the commodity private label to Food Club and focus on something unique that could actually make them special.

The remodel program has helped Save Mart's image. They made some very poor decisions after the Albertsons purchase with regards to product quality and pricing but I don't know if it impacted their original stores quite as badly as it impacted the former Albertsons Stores. Initially for a few years the logistics were different.. and I saw some still good looking meat and produce departments in original Save Mart locations... compared to the awful execution they were having in the former Albertsons.
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Re: Save Mart phasing out Market Essentials

Post by HCal »

I feel like a chain with 200+ stores is big enough to have its own private label brand. If I were in charge, I would have a two-tier system, with Sunny Select the main grocery brand, and Pacific Coast for premium products. Pacific Coast Organic could be a sub-brand. I would get rid of the generic no-name products, or keep them only in a few big categories where it makes sense to have three tiers. The Topco brands like Simply Done could be used for non-food only. But I suppose those brands are cheaper, so Save Mart is tempted to use them to save money, which compromises the Sunny Select label. I've seen That's Smart and Crav'n popping up on random items lately.
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Re: Save Mart phasing out Market Essentials

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HCal wrote: July 19th, 2021, 11:41 pm I feel like a chain with 200+ stores is big enough to have its own private label brand. If I were in charge, I would have a two-tier system, with Sunny Select the main grocery brand, and Pacific Coast for premium products. Pacific Coast Organic could be a sub-brand. I would get rid of the generic no-name products, or keep them only in a few big categories where it makes sense to have three tiers. The Topco brands like Simply Done could be used for non-food only. But I suppose those brands are cheaper, so Save Mart is tempted to use them to save money, which compromises the Sunny Select label. I've seen That's Smart and Crav'n popping up on random items lately.
A chain with 200+ (at this time) stores probably should have its own private label. But when you are already bringing in stock Topco items all over the place (as you point out- That's Smart and Crav'n on various random food- plus Simply Done in household paper), you may as well pull the trigger and just bring in Food Club too.

The other issue is these Topco brands have somewhat cohesive packaging. When you put a That's Smart, a Full Circle, a Simply Done, and a Food Club item next to each other you can tell these are all related brands. The Sunny Select/Market Essentials/generic no name items with all different logos/packaging formats look out of place and are causing this entire private label program to look very disorganized and confused. When I go through Save Mart and am looking and see the only private label option in syrup is some weird generic no name item, the only private label option in frozen waffles is some packer waffle (not even one of the private labels from Topco or Sunny Select), the only private label option in frozen vegetables is Sunny Select, then go into some other category and the only option is Market Essentials I am really confused what level of product quality I am supposed to be expecting here with all of these different private labels. Is the syrup "as good as name brand" or is it a lesser quality? The frozen waffles -? Market Essentials again is that as good as name brand? Those items should just all be Food Club (they could have just all been kept Sunny Select as they had been from about 1992-2016- not sure what happened with that 4-5 years ago when this mess started).

Also worth noting the dairy category is on Sunnyside for private label since Save Mart used to own that with Raleys before selling it to Producers so that entire category is sourced through Producers. And I would not expect that to change.

I am seeing Full Circle Organic items showing up as well (and Pacific Coast items disappearing).

Save Mart at this point needs to do whatever is needed to get a professional, cohesive private label program into its stores at the lowest possible cost. Continuing the current messy arrangement isn't doing it. Food Club seems like the easiest option.

Also they need to get the store remodel program started back up.
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Re: Save Mart phasing out Market Essentials

Post by HCal »

By my estimation, about 80% of the private label center-store food items are Sunny Select, so that is still by far the dominant brand. The Topco brands seem to be limited to certain items, like Crav'n frozen pizza and That's Smart shredded cheese. Of course the non-food items are mostly Topco brands. I would guess that Sunny Select is sourced through Topco, so perhaps it costs more for their own branding than the generic ones?

Market Essentials seems to be gone now from what I can tell, unless I missed something in some aisle. I think it was just temporary until they acquired Sunny Select.

The completely unbranded items are a real head-scratcher. No idea what they're trying to do there.

Oh, and they are now giving away free hand sanitizing soap with each purchase. Someone ordered too much...
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Re: Save Mart phasing out Market Essentials

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HCal wrote: July 25th, 2021, 1:07 am By my estimation, about 80% of the private label center-store food items are Sunny Select, so that is still by far the dominant brand. The Topco brands seem to be limited to certain items, like Crav'n frozen pizza and That's Smart shredded cheese. Of course the non-food items are mostly Topco brands. I would guess that Sunny Select is sourced through Topco, so perhaps it costs more for their own branding than the generic ones?

Market Essentials seems to be gone now from what I can tell, unless I missed something in some aisle. I think it was just temporary until they acquired Sunny Select.

The completely unbranded items are a real head-scratcher. No idea what they're trying to do there.

Oh, and they are now giving away free hand sanitizing soap with each purchase. Someone ordered too much...
Sunny Select is definitely through Topco. The packaging looks very similar to the redesigned Harris Teeter private label items that have been getting redesigned over the past couple years.

I am also seeing more and more Full Circle Organic in grocery, but there are still also a few Pacific Coast Organic items as well.

To that point- I wonder if Market Essentials was NOT through Topco? Same goes for the unbranded items.

There is a growing amount of Crav'n stuff. Outside frozen, I saw it on refrigerated cookie dough, cookies/crackers, and some other category that escapes me. I am not sure how successful this product line is going to be.

Topco has been pushing to get stores to carry the stock Topco labels (Simply Done, Full Circle, Top Care) on certain categories for a while now, I think between low volume on Top Care/Full Circle and just trying to get a lower cost on the categories where Simply Done is, is where they are going with that. If you look at Raleys, they have gone to stock TopCo brands on all non-food but you don't see them at all on food. C&S just has the stock Top Care and Paws but is still putting Best Yet on the household category which is somewhat unusual.
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Re: Save Mart phasing out Market Essentials

Post by retailfanmitchell019 »

storewanderer wrote: July 25th, 2021, 11:10 am Topco has been pushing to get stores to carry the stock Topco labels (Simply Done, Full Circle, Top Care) on certain categories for a while now, I think between low volume on Top Care/Full Circle and just trying to get a lower cost on the categories where Simply Done is, is where they are going with that.
Stater Bros uses TopCare and Simply Done on non-food now. Until 2017, the Stater Bros brand was used for everything.
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