Apples and Oranges: Differentiation

Apples and Oranges what is better? Well guess what, we won’t find that out today because instead we will be discussing the differences between two grocery store chains one which is a major chain and the other which is a much smaller chain store. The grocery store business is a fast growing industry with a new store opening everyday. The two stores that we will learn about and compare are Vons/Safeway and Sprouts, these two stores are our apples and oranges. The conversation for today will be about how do these two stores use social media to their advantage and if it what they are doing is working for them. But before we get into that let’s look at the history of these two stores and find out where exactly they are coming from.

Ingredients for Life:

Vons or also known as Safeway is grocery store chain that is located California and Nevada but Safeway’s are located all over the west coast as well as some other states in the midwest region. But how did they get their start and where are they today? Vons was first started up in Los Angels in 1906 and by 1928 they had expanded to 87 stores and by the 1970’s they had expanded even more with more than 159 new stores. Now in 2012 Vons has over 325 stores in California and Nevada. What makes Vons so impressive and how have they managed to be a leader in the ever growing grocery store industry? Let’s look back to 1948, during this time they did something that no other grocery store had done before, they started to sell self-service produce, meat and deli department. Since then they have been growing and changing and doing things to help keep them up to date and on top of what the consumer wants and needs. What are some of these things and do they have anything to do with social media? The answer to that is simple, yes. They have been doing this not only through the use of social media but by offering things in their store that consumer may find important. According to their website Vons has “introduced full service banks, one hour photo, professional pharmacies,dry cleaners and service centers which offer copying and faxing.” This is one way in which they are able to get customers back is by offering offering all of these different services. What else do they do, well let’s take a look. Just like most grocery stores they have a loyalty card that allows for consumer’s to save money on products that are on sale. They also have a program called “Just for U” this program allows for customers to save an additional 10-20% percent off sale prices, the Coupon Center which allows for consumers to find the coupons that they want and download them directly to their club card, personalized deals which are designed to save the consumer money on the products that they purchase most often, and your club specials this allows for you to find all the items that you purchase most frequently and find out if those products are on sales. This not just something that can be done in the store, but you can also download the “Just for U” app for your iPhone and Android.  They also have a Facebook account, that allows for consumers to engage in conversation with one another, they ask questions and also show special deals that are going on in the store. They have Twitter account in which like with Facebook they allow for consumers to engage with them, the ask questions, tell you about deals, and give advice about products that you may want to purchase. Then they have a blog but this blog is better than just listening to what the people work they have to say, but rather it includes posts by the people who really matter and that is YOU!

This is my local VONS store, located in the Hillcrest/Mission Hills area of San Diego, CA

The next store that I want to review is a small chain located only in a few states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. Before getting to how they use social media let’s take a little trip to the past, it all started back in the 1940’s with a single fruit stand near La Mesa, in San Diego, CA at this time the store was not called Sprouts, but rather it was called Boney’s, named after the man who started it all Henry Boney, hence the reason why some of the stores are called Henry’s. What has happened to Boney’s/Sprouts since that first fruit stand in 1943, well today they now have over 100 stores located in eight states. What makes this store so special that it belongs in this blog, well it is a different than you average run of the mill grocery store, it doesn’t carry as many products as most stores do and they don’t advertise on television. So how do they do it, how do they stay in touch with their customers, well first off they offer extremely low prices on the produce, for example 4lbs of watermelon or 4 ears of white corn for $1. But how do they connect to consumer via social media well this is how, the use the basics Facebook and Twitter but they also have a YouTube channel but unfortunately  they don’t advertise their YouTube channel so I had to personally search YouTube myself to find their channel. However their YouTube channel shows only four videos, but one video shows them sponsoring a Walk for Autism in Arizona.

There Facebook page is filled with questions that consumers can answer which helps them to engage and feel as part of this community. There Twitter Account is just filled with basic information, facts and recipes.

So the differences between the way in which Vons has chosen to use social media versus the way in which Sprouts uses it, is amazing. They both sell groceries but Sprouts is much smaller than Vons and so they don’t need to utilize social media as much as Vons. It is important to understand that every business is different therefore not every business is going to use the same social media outlets. Also it is important to understand that not all social media outlets need to be used in order to engage with the consumer. I believe that both Sprouts and Vons have done a good job as far as the amount social media outlets that they have used and how they have chosen to use them. Vons since they are bigger than Sprouts and sell more grocery items it is important for them to be able to compete with the larger grocery stores such as Kroger and Wal-Mart. Now Sprouts because they only sell a small selection of products and they sell healthy, organic, gluten free products as well as few other products, they didn’t need to do as much a Vons because they are competing more with Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.  Both of these stores are different but both stores are part of the ever growing grocery store industry and need to use social media in order to keep up and in touch with their customers.

* Sources pulled from:

http://sprouts.com/

https://twitter.com/SproutsFM

https://www.facebook.com/SproutsFarmersMarket

http://www.youtube.com/user/SproutsFarmersMarket

http://www.vons.com/ShopStores/Our-Story.page

https://twitter.com/vons_pavilions

https://www.facebook.com/Safeway

 

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2 responses to “Apples and Oranges: Differentiation

  1. “It is important to understand that every business is different therefore not every business is going to use the same social media outlets. Also it is important to understand that not all social media outlets need to be used in order to engage with the consumer.” Great points made. I also like that you have photos and videos to make the post more engaging for readers.

  2. Good point about how the size (and relationship) between the store and customers changes the social media equation. Likely individuals who shop at Sprouts feel more “recognized” by their local stores. Vons can be large and have many more customers a day so likely employees know fewer of the regulars. Likely Vons also has higher turnover.

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