May 16, 2013

Brands We Love: Publix

Plain and simple, I love Publix. It’s a love affair that‘s going on 20+ years, and with the Florida-based grocer now entering my adopted home state of North Carolina, it’s an affair I don’t see ending anytime soon.


There are so many reasons to love a grocer whose tagline is “where shopping is a pleasure,” but for today’s post, I’m going to discuss two things that make the Publix brand stand out: Its private label brand and its advertising, specifically its holiday commercials.
But first, a little history on Publix.


Publix is an employee-owned supermarket founded in 1930 by George W. Jenkins. According to My Private Label Buyer, George was managing a Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Winter Haven, Florida when hard times brought a drop in the store’s sales volume and staff pay cuts. When George learned the owner had sold his store to an Atlanta businessman, he looked forward to a visit from the new owner, but as time passed there was no meeting. So he took initiative and made his way to Atlanta to introduce himself. George never got the face-to-face meeting he hoped for and left Atlanta feeling a bit scorned, but also extremely motivated to start a store of his own, and that store was Publix.


Publix now operates over 1,000 stores in the Southeast. Publix brought in profits of $1.5 billion in 2012 and is ranked #106 on Forbes’ Fortune 500 list. Publix’s accolades don’t stop there though – it’s consistently ranked as one of Fortune’s top 100 Best Companies to work for, and according to a report compiled by Deloitte in 2010, Publix took the top spot on the most valuable retail brands list, even beating out big-time players such as Amazon, Ikea, and H&M.


To learn more about its history, check out this video that a Tampa news station produced for Publix’s 80th anniversary in 2010.

Publix Private Label:
The Publix Private Label brand has a loyal following, and with good reason. Those who regularly shop at Publix know that buying private label means they won’t have to sacrifice quality for price – something that most shoppers might take for granted – because you see, not every private label brand holds their goods to the same standard that Publix does. It’s this sort of standard that has propelled the Publix private label brand to account for 20 percent of all its sales. The Publix private label is projected to have sales of $6.6 billion by 2014.


And the packaging hasn’t hurt the brand’s success either. In 2003, Publix redesigned its private label packaging across all offerings, and now features a clean, simple and prominently white design that clearly separates it from big label brands.

Publix Commercials:
A standard branding “must do” is creating emotional connections with your customers. Do that and you’ll have a greater chance of bringing that customer back time and time again. This is something Publix does better than almost anyone. If you haven’t seen a Publix commercial, you might wonderhow a grocery store can do this? Publix is just another store to get the food I put on my table. That may be true, but you’d be hard pressed to find another brand – in any market – that capitalizes on human emotion more than Publix does. Liz Crawford, senior vice president, business and communications strategy with Mars, a shopper marketing agency, summed it up quite nicely when she said, “Publix conveys this image, particularly in its television advertising, of family and a good meal, it’s almost like love on the table.” There’s a warmth there that any national chain, even the really successful ones, just can’t seem to match. I get the sense that Publix really is lodged in the hearts of its shoppers.”


Grab your box of tissues and check out some the most memorable Publix commercials below.

As Publix begins to extend further north, so will the impact of its brand, and personally, I can’t wait to see it in my backyard again.

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