Brands We Love: Hy-Vee Returning to Fundamentals

One of the best things you can do in marketing is to take cues from other successful businesses and build on what they’ve done right by adding your own twists. In that spirit, we’re devoting one blog post a month to a series we call “Brands We Love.” This is the first post in that series.

Returning to Fundamentals- the Hy-Vee Brand

Midwest grocery chain Hy-Vee recently bid a fond farewell to retiring CEO Ric Jurgens and ushered in a new era with incoming CEO Randy Edeker. Edeker, who has been with the company for thirty years, recently gave an inspiring interview to the Des Moines Register on the direction the company will take in the future. So many things that we love about the Hy-Vee brand can be found in Edeker’s interview (which goes to show that Hy-Vee’s CEO has their brand voice down!).

Employees are the reason for success

Ever since we were little, we can remember singing, “Where there’s a helpful smile in every aisle,” the famous jingle at the end of every Hy-Vee commercial. For all of its 82 years, Hy-Vee has prided itself on having friendly employees that take a very real interest in Hy-Vee – seeing as how it’s “employee owned.” Those two pieces of their brand are so very consistent, no matter what marketing strategy they’ve taken. You know what else keeps that consistent? Retaining long-time employees that believe in the brand themselves. We love shopping at Hy-Vee because there truly is “a helpful smile in every aisle.”

The right price on bananas

Another huge part of Hy-Vee’s brand is their commitment to competitive prices. Hy-Vee has a huge inventory, but takes great care in focusing on sale items that best benefit the consumer. Low prices and special sales are a huge part of their marketing efforts. They have adapted quickly to changing technology with active promotion of their pricing on their website and social media.

Hy-Vee also gives store-level managers autonomy to ensure they’re competitive with other local stores by price matching. In some cases, competition goes beyond pricing to service: the Iowa Falls Hy-Vee has recently instituted a new policy that gives customers a “Fareway experience” by having an employee take your groceries to your car for you.

A combination of the best ideas

Because Hy-Vee has built such a strong, consistent brand, they have room to experiment. A new “mega-store” being built in Urbandale borrows the best of the best from grocery chains across the country. But Hy-Vee is experimenting in a smart way: introducing new and exciting ideas while still maintaining their brand offerings of great employees and low prices.

Hy-Vee has experimented with more than just store layouts. One of their most recent ad campaigns featured celebrity chef Curtis Stone. Hy-Vee enjoyed success from that campaign, but Edeker said it best, “You’ll see us return to what our strength is, and that’s our employees and the fundamentals of Hy-Vee: treating our customers right, delivering value. I think that’s important.”

Hats off to you, Hy-Vee!

Hy-Vee isn’t the only local grocery store chain we love, but they do have our allegiance to their branding efforts. Though they are no longer a “small business,” their devotion to the values on which they started their business makes them a contender for Brands We Love.

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