Natural Foods Merchandiser
New Seasons San Jose Image courtesy New Leaf Community Markets

How one natural foods store aced the hybrid model

New Leaf Community Markets successfully transitioned its San Jose, California, natural foods store into a two-line hybrid model that offers shoppers both natural and conventional options, side-by-side on the shelf.

When New Leaf Community Markets launched in 1985, the goal was to offer a full-service natural and organic supermarket. By 2012, founder Scott Roseman had opened his fifth location in San Jose, California.

"The community, which had been without a grocery store for the past year and a half, was happy to have a place to shop again," he said. The bad news? They just weren't ready for the only game in town to be exclusively natural and organic—they missed the brands and prices they were accustomed to finding in a conventional store. So while New Leaf did grow in sales and customer counts over the next 18 months, "it was evident that more change was needed to better meet the needs of that community," Roseman said.

Enter New Seasons Market, which acquired New Leaf Community Markets in November 2013, and offered an intriguing alternative that might work in San Jose: a twin-line, hybrid model that offered shoppers both natural and conventional options, side-by-side on the shelf. "When a market study confirmed this, we began the process to convert the store," Roseman said.

The transition consisted of two phases. First up was a massive product switch-over, which took place October 2014. Rebranding everything in and outside the store took a little more time, but by March 2015, the team was ready to unveil its new branding to let the community know the store had gone crossover. Here's what Roseman had to say about the store today:

The new: "While the store continues to offer customers a complete selection of natural and organic food products, it now also gives the community a choice to add some of their favorite brand name foods such as Best Foods mayo, Oreo, Jif and Skippy, and Coke and Pepsi—products not sold at New Leaf stores."

The unchanged: "It's still a community-based store, donating 10 percent of profits to local organizations; it's still the same great group of people working there; it's still a great resource for the community to find healthy and delicious food choices."

The bottom line: "Sales have been growing at a good clip, and customers appear to be happy to have the choices they now have."

When New Leaf Community Markets launched in 1985, the goal was to offer a full-service natural and organic supermarket. By 2012, founder Scott Roseman had opened his fifth location in San Jose, California.

"The community, which had been without a grocery store for the past year and a half, was happy to have a place to shop again," he said. The bad news? They just weren't ready for the only game in town to be exclusively natural and organic—they missed the brands and prices they were accustomed to finding in a conventional store. So while New Leaf did grow in sales and customer counts over the next 18 months, "it was evident that more change was needed to better meet the needs of that community," Roseman said.

Enter New Seasons Market, which acquired New Leaf Community Markets in November 2013, and offered an intriguing alternative that might work in San Jose: a twin-line, hybrid model that offered shoppers both natural and conventional options, side-by-side on the shelf. "When a market study confirmed this, we began the process to convert the store," Roseman said.

The transition consisted of two phases. First up was a massive product switch-over, which took place October 2014. Rebranding everything in and outside the store took a little more time, but by March 2015, the team was ready to unveil its new branding to let the community know the store had gone crossover. Here's what Roseman had to say about the store today:

The new: "While the store continues to offer customers a complete selection of natural and organic food products, it now also gives the community a choice to add some of their favorite brand name foods such as Best Foods mayo, Oreo, Jif and Skippy, and Coke and Pepsi—products not sold at New Leaf stores."

The unchanged: "It's still a community-based store, donating 10 percent of profits to local organizations; it's still the same great group of people working there; it's still a great resource for the community to find healthy and delicious food choices."

The bottom line: "Sales have been growing at a good clip, and customers appear to be happy to have the choices they now have."

 

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