July 20, 2010

Supervalu...thinning out selection or dumbing down for women? You decide

Remember earlier today I promised we'd talk about Jewel thinning out their product selection? Well, here we go....

I've been sitting on this one for almost two weeks before writing about it. I was hoping that by waiting I would be able to find out it was all just a big misunderstanding. I could not have been more wrong. It all started with this little Crain's article featuring the CEO of Supervalu (the parent company of my beloved Jewel Osco). It seems that Supervalu is testing a new store format in its Bolingbrook, IL store that cuts out 15% to 25% of products to reduce clutter, cut costs and make room for more of its own brands. While have less of a selection doesn't make me happy, it is the rationale behind this idea that has me astounded and more than a little outraged.

The article goes on to say "Craig Herkert, a former Wal-Mart executive who took over as Minnesota-based Supervalu's CEO last year, told investors in April that scaling back inventory is a central component of a new growth strategy dubbed "Project SHE, which stands for Simplify Her Experience." Really? Is grocery shopping such a complexity that it can't be handled by the average woman? We need to have it simplified for us?

Then I read another article in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune in which Mr. Herkert refers to all female shoppers as "Mom" and implies they don't know what "a better value" is when they see it. This was too much for me, and I felt compelled to email Mr. Herkert, along with Steve Jungmann, their recently appointed Executive Vice President of Merchandising. Click here to read my email. 

My email program is set up to automatically request a receipt letting me know when an email has been read. I received a notice minutes later that Mr. Jungmann had read my email. Days later I received this notification about Mr. Herkert's copy. 
Yes, you are reading it right....deleted, without being read. It seems Mr. Herkert isn't interested in customer feedback. Which is particularly perplexing since today I received an  email from the Supervalu Public Affairs department. It assures me that they "appreciate hearing from their customers" and "are constantly refining their execution and planning based on customer feedback". Hmmm...here is the email in its entirety:
"Thank you for your letter regarding your concerns about the variety of products and brands available at your local Jewel-Osco store and our store redesign project. We appreciate hearing from our customers on issues that are important to them.

As noted in the Crain’s story that you read, a main focus for the CEO of SUPERVALU, Craig Herkert, is to make the shopping experience easier for our customers here at Jewel-Osco and across the country. This effort includes offering the products that our customers want and expect to find in our stores without the clutter of too many similar choices, as well as promotions and sale prices that are easy to understand and give our customers the best value.

Our consumer data indicates that 80 percent of our shoppers are women who live very busy lives. Our overall intent with this program is to make their shopping experience more pleasant. If this was communicated in a way that offended you, we regret that.

With the store redesign project, we continue to roll out and test new elements of this program, constantly refining our execution and planning based on customer feedback. We are being very deliberate with these changes.

We believe focusing on the customer and simplifying the shopping experience will help us achieve our goal of delivering the highest level of customer satisfaction for our shoppers.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact us.

SUPERVALU Public Affairs"
So, here is my question to you readers: Is Supervalu thinning out their selection or  'dumbing down' their stores for female shoppers? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Till next time...
The Coupon Connoisseur

1 comment:

  1. I read your original post about the Newspaper article.I too felt insulted and couldn't believe the audacity that this Craig Herkert has . I for one feel that they (super-valu) are Dumbing Down women as a whole.They talk in their response to your e-mail about how women make up 80+ percent of their business. They go on to say how we live busy lives.Yet maybe instead of treating us like it's the 50,s they need to consider that not only are we women of today capable of raising a family ,keeping our homes running,working full time,in these hard economic times. we are also quite capable of taking our hard earned dollars to a store who appreciates us and not only being a wise shopper to bring home the bacon and fry it up ,but with a coupon too. ;)


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