Sobeys is the latest grocer to embrace the fast-growing “grocerant” concept with the launch of its Easy Meals line of products.
Easy Meals consists of approximately 35 SKUs, ranging from old-school favourites such as Classic Pot Roast and Meat Lasagna, to more contemporary items including Apple Brie and Red Pepper Jelly Boneless Chicken Breast with Vegetable Medley, and Tangy Thai Boneless Pork Loin Chop with Vegetable Medley.
Ingredients and flavour profiles have been adjusted to reflect regional availability and tastes, says Bryon Feener, senior director, commercial programs –meat and seafood at Sobeys.
Available in both ready-to-cook and ready-to-heat formats, Easy Meals are being sold in single-serve packages, providing choice for the busy families who are the key target. “Our customers want to dine together, but we’ve found that they don’t necessarily want to eat the same thing,” says Feener.
Sobeys has also introduced what Feener describes as a “multi-buy strategy,” which involves a 50-cent discount on each item beyond the first. The Easy Meals items range from $6 to $10 in price, with ready-to-cook products on the cheaper end of the scale.
Feener says customer response to Easy Meals has been positive in the first couple weeks of launch, with the products averaging four stars in customer reviews on the grocer’s website. “We knew there was pent-up consumer demand for this and they’re showing their support,” he says.
Lyne Castonguay, executive vice-president of merchandising for Sobeys, calls the Easy Meals program a “no-brainer” since the grocerant concept shows no sign of abating and the retailer already had the in-store infrastructure to prepare the food items.
The product launch is being supported by a digital campaign that includes social media, digital display and video. Victoria Mulvale, manager of integrated brand marketing for Sobeys, says the company is primarily targeting millennial moms, who lead active lives and have a propensity towards convenience foods such as takeout and frozen meals.
According to Sobeys research, 35% of Easy Meals’ target audience orders takeout twice or more each month, while 75% have young children at home. Research also suggests middle-aged Canadians are looking for healthy food options for their elderly parents, representing what Feener describes as a “big opportunity” for the company.
The Easy Meals products are available at approximately 480 Sobeys and Safeway stores across the country, with Feener saying there are plans to eventually introduce them to the Foodland banner.