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Farm Fresh ad

It can be a nice surprise when you go into your grocery store and discover some unadvertised specials. It’s not so nice, when nearly all of the weekly deals are unadvertised. One grocery chain has found out the hard way, that customers don’t like it when the sales are a secret, and they have to wander the store hoping to stumble upon the specials.

Two months ago, Virginia’s Farm Fresh introduced a slimmed-down weekly circular that was about half the size of the old ad, with images and text that were nearly twice as big. What happened to all the sales? Oh, we’re still having sales, Farm Fresh said. We’re just not going to tell you what they are until you come into the store.

You can imagine how that went over with customers who actually like to plan their grocery trips.

“We’re excited to debut our new ad format this week,” Farm Fresh announced in a cheery Facebook post. Instead of listing all the sale items in the circular, only a select few would be highlighted, and the rest would be marked with sale tags on the shelves. “It’s just one of the changes we are making to help simplify your shopping experience!”

Simplify your shopping experience? Quite the opposite, according to annoyed customers who responded on Facebook.

“I don’t have time to walk up and down your aisles to see what’s on sale this week,” wrote one commenter. “Your new ad is useless,” wrote another. “They are simplifying our shopping experience,” commented a third, “they’re making it easy to shop elsewhere!”

After several sunny attempts to ease customers’ disappointment and assure them their opinions were being heard, worn-down Farm Fresh representatives began changing their tune and started pleading for patience. “The changes to our ad took time to implement, and any further changes will require more time. Please bear with us.”

Those changes apparently took two whole months. This past Wednesday, Farm Fresh finally returned to its original ad format, dropping the reviled “new Coke” version of its weekly circular.

Farm Fresh’s parent company Supervalu said the new ad format was all Farm Fresh’s idea, part of the parent company’s new decentralized way of doing business (read: “The New Supervalu: Low Prices, Fresh Food, and the Sales are a Secret”). But Supervalu still stuck up for Farm Fresh back in April, when the new ad format debuted. “Our goal is to make the weekly ad more impactful for our customers,” Supervalu spokesman Jeffrey Swanson told Coupons in the News at the time, “while not making it difficult to shop us.”

When asked for a followup comment about last week’s reversal, though, Swanson did not respond. Nor did Farm Fresh announce on its Facebook page that, basically, it was wrong and customers were right. So with no fanfare, or mea culpa, customers were left to figure out for themselves that things had finally gone back to the way they were.

In other words, Farm Fresh is keeping the fact that its sales are no longer a secret – a secret.

Will they never learn?

One Comment

  1. Ooooh-that’s not good.
    & you’re right, you can’t plan a weeks worth of menus AND play ‘scavenger hunt’ at the same time. Shopping for the family is a serious business.
    As a housewife/homemaker I can only describe it as part of my ‘job’. This ‘job’ of mine entails: Menu planning, shopping, cooking and maintaining a budget. And I take my ‘job’ very seriously.
    Farm Fresh doesn’t seem to appreciate that fact-or their customers. Well, to be more fair…Farm Fresh doesn’t seem to RESPECT their customers.

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