Ahold Delhaize strives for family feel

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Ahold Delhaize strives for family feel

By Louisa Hallett - 10/05/2018
John MacDonald and Whitney Hardy speaking at Path 2 Purchase Expo.

Ahold Delhaize gets to know its customer by trying implement its former ‘family-owned feeling.’

“Our brands need to be creatively and materially different and be truly local," Giant Food Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer John MacDonald said Thursday during a keynote presentation at the Path to Purchase Expo.

According to our sister brand, Shopper Marketing, MacDonald said it's easy to get caught up in the seemingly constant stream of retail news that includes mergers and acquisitions, and new e-commerce strategies or store concepts. But Ahold Delhaize is trying to stay focused and develop a customer-centric model.

“You’re never going to absolutely nail it, but if you go through and make continuous improvement we can create something special," MacDonald said.

To develop a deep understanding of its customers and how they differ by banner and geography, marketing leaders across banners worked together to quickly develop a model they should focus on. Giant targets "Jessica," a younger, likely Millennial, shopper who has kids, really relies on technology and wants a retailer to share her values. Stop & Shop is now focused on "Liz," a mom juggling parenting and work who doesn’t want to spend much time in the grocery store. She also uses technology constantly and likes to eat healthy foods but doesn't always do so.

All of Ahold Delhaize's banners want to create an iconic and relevant brand experience and forge a deeper connection with customers. While their physical offices are located across the East Coast, the banners are working closely together to achieve these goals through a "virtual open office" that encourages frequent informal communication and idea sharing.

The market is more fragmented than ever, with the same shoppers visiting six or seven stores for specific needs rather than making one big weekly shop. The rise in out-of-home consumption means supermarkets are also competing with restaurants. Retailers additionally have the challenge of catering to the needs of both Millennials and aging Baby Boomers, attracting new shoppers without alienating their core customers.

“The consumer is changing and a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing doesn’t work anymore," Stop & Shop Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Whitney Hardy said during the presentation.