The July 13 issue of The New York Times’ Sunday Magazine shone the spotlight on Safeway’s O Organics and Eating Right, citing the popular lines as examples of store brands that have successfully moved beyond the traditional notions of private-label marketing into a realm where consumers view the products as able to compete on both quality and price with established, national brands. “The strategy, which is the culmination of several years of effort on Safeway’s part, seems to defeat the whole purpose of the store brand,” Rob Walker wrote in an article titled “Organic Growth.”
Safeway now sells 350 products in its O Organics line, including milk, frozen items and a wide variety of shelf-stable offerings. According to The Times article, Safeway reports it is on track to “hit sales of $400 million in 2008” for O Organics alone. The company has also struck a partnership with Sysco Corp. to sell its O Organics products in South America and Asia. Safeway’s Eating Right line—“which is positioned as balancing taste and nutrition,” The Times wrote—was launched in 2007 and now includes 250 products.
To help O Organics and Eating Right compete against established brands, as well as other successful private-label lines such as Whole Foods Market’s successful 365 Organic Everyday Value brand, Safeway hired executives from large consumer-product companies such as Procter & Gamble to run the lines and brought on Chicago’s DDB ad agency to handle its national print and television advertising campaigns. The company also created the Better Living Brands Alliance, which is working to get the O Organics and Eating Right lines into places other than Safeway, including school cafeterias, foreign markets and hopefully other grocery stores right here in the United States, The Times reported. The alliance “is described as a consortium of food and beverage makers and distributors (basically Safeway’s private-label partners) that markets the O Organics and Eating Right brands to non-Safeway locations.”