Friday, February 3, 2012

Target vs Walmart: The Grocery Wars

Target is turning up the heat in the grocery wars, adding refrigerated and frozen food sections and expanding its pantry aisles in many stores. In Bangor, Maine, for example, a remodeling project means added space for produce, meat, and other groceries (see photo below). “Our primary market is the young married mother with children,” says the store manager.

If the Bangor store is remodeled like my local Target, the enlarged grocery section will be in the back, forcing shoppers to walk through aisles of toys, cookware, and health and beauty aids in order to find the soup and salad. The selection in my local Target is surprisingly broad and the prices for packaged foods are excellent, especially compared with local supermarkets.

In the large Walmart stores, groceries are up front where convenience-minded shoppers can grab, pay, and go. Adding food helped Walmart maintain market share during the recession, while some competitors faltered.

Interestingly, Walmart is introducing an online "Walmart to go" food delivery service in selected markets, competing with Peapod and other established online grocery delivery programs. The home page of the delivery service offers comparative savings as evidence that Walmart delivers value as well as convenience.

Watch for the grocery wars to continue, store by store, market by market.

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