Woolworths’ sophisticated private label play

Pro make-up artist, Jules Sebastian, helped develop the range

Woolworths has launched a new luxury skincare range and nutritional ready-to-go meals in separate campaigns both fronted by celebrity names, in evidence of the supermarket giant’s grab at health-conscious, budget-savvy consumers.

In a saturated marketplace where supermarkets, international names and pharmacy chains all vie for shoppers’ cosmetic dollars, the retailer late last week launched a new skincare range, dubbed voeu, offered exclusively at its stores and ranging in price from between $1.50 and $8.00. Taline MacKenzie, Woolworths product developer, said the retailer focused on offering high quality products that customers can afford.

“We worked really hard to develop a value quality luxury range that they can pick up doing their weekly shop at Woolworths, we’re really proud and absolutely behind it because we know the product works,” she told Inside Retail. The range is scientifically designed and dermatologically tested, incorporating ingredients including Japanese cedar extracts, pink pepper and liquorice root, arguably more synonymous with high-end beauty chains.

MacKenzie said the skincare range had been developed over a year in partnership with brand ambassador and professional makeup artist, Jules Sebastian and that the clear labelling on all products in the range would cater to the increasingly health conscious Aussie consumer.

“We’re listening to our customers and getting positive feedback on it, not only on the price point, but on the product itself as well,” she said.

Woolies attempts to capturing that ‘healthy Aussie’ can also be seen in the conglomerate’s launch of a new line of nutritionally balanced ready meals, which will add to the Michelle Bridges Delicious Nutritious range.

Jim Fader, general manager, Woolworths FoodCo, told Inside Retail that growth in the health food sector spurred the latest meal play.

“Our ready meals category has experienced a 13 per cent increase in sales over the last year and we have sold nearly one million meals from the frozen Michelle Bridges Delicious Nutritious range, demonstrating that shoppers are looking for healthy and convenient meals,” he said.

Fader said customers feedback that “they are working longer hours than they used to and are therefore finding it harder than ever before to find the time to cook”, in tandem with not wanting to compromise their health by taking shortcuts represented an opportunity for the supermarket giant to tap into.

“We’ve already seen a huge uptake and we expect to see strong sales across the 720 stores that the meals are available in,” he said.

“Consumers are definitely becoming more health conscious and our market research has shown that a large proportion of Australians are taking steps to stay healthy, but are only cooking from scratch around two to three nights a week.

“We’ve noticed that the sales of ready made meals rise towards the end of the week as shoppers look to restock their fridges, or are look for convenient alternatives.”

Woolies chief executive Brad Banducci recently said the number of transactions and items per basket have grown for the retailer, in a sign that the group’s turnaround strategy is working.

The supermarket giant’s comparable food sales, which removes one-off events, grew 3.1 per cent in the second quarter and 1.9 per cent for the six months to January 1, with the supermarket giant back in the black with a half-year profit of $725.3 million.

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