Longo's versus Michael-Angelo's in Round Two of a no-prisoners marketing battle between two near identical grocers

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What happens when two near identical grocers (Longo's and Michael-Angelo's) compete for the same customers in the same location? Round One, which wrapped up about 18 months ago, went to the more established competitor – Longo's. In Round Two, which kicked off in early December 2014, a slimmer (and better?) Michael-Angelo's reentered the ring.

In the first round of the head-to-head competition between these two grocers (see story below), Longo’s scored a technical knock out when Michael-Angelo's was forced to close about 18 months ago.  It was only a technical knock out because Michael-Angelo’s promised to reopen at an undisclosed date.

A new retailer, LA Fitness, opened in part of Michael-Angelo’s former location, which appeared to signal that the grocer was not going to attempt a come back.  But early in December 2014 a smaller version of Michael-Angelo's reopened.  That corrected one problem – the original Michael-Angelo's was far too big.

But other problems persist:

  • The two grocers are still nearly identical – even the logos have similar elements.
  • There has been no significant growth in that area, mostly because there is no room and the immediate area is mostly commercial/industrial.  There is huge growth to the east and north, but those regions are well served by two formidable grocers catering to the premium foods demo being chased by Michael-Angelo's:  The Village Grocer and Whole Foods.
  •  Longo's has had 18 months to build on its biggest marketing advantage – it was first into the market and used that time to build customer loyalty, primarily by being very customer focused.
Unique print advertising idea from Toronto grocer or failed marketing strategy to attract customers with low prices.
Can print advertising flyers like this one convince customers that Michael-Angelo's is new and improved?

All the other marketing fundamentals are pretty much the same, which suggests Michael-Angelo’s has little reason to expect a better outcome.  You might even suggest it is marketing insanity to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.

A repeat of failed marketing strategies – or break through marketing that changes everything?

Most unsuccessful businesses don't get a second chance.

Fewer still find success the second time around by convincing the customer that they are new and improved.

Will Michael-Angelo's be the exception?

Stay tuned.

Wolfgang Franke is President & Creative Director of Words at Work Advertising & Marketing, a full service communications company established in 1988. Our growing list of valued clients are found throughout our local market, Markham and the Greater Toronto area, across Canada in cities such as London, Ontario, and Edmonton, Alberta, and an expanding list of international locations ranging from The Big Apple in New York to Kanturk, Ireland.

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