I noticed this morning (on my way into Starbucks with the kids for a celebratory doughnut on the last day of pre-school) that the Bloom grocery store in my neighborhood suddenly had the words Food Lion across the front.
Wait a minute, I thought. I scratched my head. Was it all a dream? Wasn’t this store Bloom a minute ago? Didn’t it change FROM Food Lion TO Bloom recently? Like three years ago recently? You do remember this, don’t you, because it absolutely was just three years ago that Food Lion made the exciting switch, effectively erasing all those 60 Minutes images of bleached meat from our brains with the nifty, fresh new name of Bloom.
I hurried home to my laptop, flipped to Google and searched Bloom. I pulled up www.shopbloom.com. First line of text:
Same Great Store, Exciting New Name – Food Lion!
I’m sorry, did you say, “Exciting new name?” I rubbed my eyes. I reloaded the page – maybe it was a joke. Nope. They actually think we don’t remember. First on the list of things to do with this new brand you’ve recently created is to fire the dumbass who posted that text.
Remember those insipid TV and radio ads with the shiny happy people in the lime green polo shirts imploring you to shop happy? In fact, I think if I recall correctly, the theme of the ads was to showcase how life really sucked, except for the fact that you could go to Bloom and that would change everything and life would be awesome! Remember that? So, now we’re going back to Food Lion. And here’s the especially funny part. On the Bloom website, next to this text…
“The name may be new, but you can expect the same friendly faces, convenient layout, and great selection. Food Lion offers the great features you’ve come to expect but now with new lower prices, special coupons, and even more ways to save!”
…is a picture of a Food Lion storefront with the year 1918 next to the name. 1918. Silly Lion! You’ve been around 6 years shy of 100! And we all know it.
I wish I knew what all those conversations in marketing were leading up to Food Lion’s original name change to Bloom in the first place. I am betting it had something to do with the Bloom tagline.
“Bob, we’re still reeling from the bleached meat thing. We need to chnage. Make them forget it. We need to be a different kind of grocery store. We need to bloom into something else.” “Hot damn, George, that’s it!”
They were desperate to be different and fresh. So they became Bloom, a different kind of grocery store. (That’s literally the Bloom tagline).
And here we are three short years later back to Food Lion. What happened? Not different enough? Too different? My guess is, different didn’t work because it was a half-assed different. You know how I know this? Because I recall seeing a mouse in the cake mix aisle one night shortly after they had transformed to Bloom. Now to me, that was very Food Lion-y. I knew there and then they hadn’t really changed. They changed the name and colors, maybe the floors and lighting, but nothing meaningful. There was no real change in attitude or behavior of employees. They probably still bleached the meat, too, what with all the rodents running around.
I also think it failed because they lost loyal Food Lion customers. They forgot who their audience was, like Susan G Komen all over again. Bloom and lime green shirts and the happiness of it all didn’t speak to Food Lion peeps. Food Lion peeps were not shiny happy people. They were down on their luck coupon clippers, trawling for gourmet frozen pizza on the cheap. They didn’t want new fan dangled fruit with an organic section and hardwood-ish floors. They wanted their familiar, dreary linoleum grocery store that sold meat on the cheap, because they could, because they bleached the darkened expired beef and stuck a new date and price tag on it. The Food Lion peeps liked that.
Take a lesson here from Bloom. If you’re gonna make a change – know why. Fix what’s broken in a big way, and for Pete’s sake don’t change without checking in with customers first. Or else you might just find yourselves changing right back.