REAL ESTATE

Red Lobster to remodel nearly 700 locations to updated design

BY CSA STAFF

Orlando, Fla. — Red Lobster announced a plan to remodel all of its nearly 700 restaurants across the United States and Canada to a design inspired by the seafaring village of Bar Harbor, Maine. Thirty-three percent of the chain’s restaurants will be remodeled by June 2011, with the goal of all Red Lobster restaurants receiving a remodel by 2014.

The new design, first developed in 2005, was selected after a rigorous, multi-year process that included guest focus groups, qualitative surveys and market testing. Interior features include cozy booths, warm wood paneling, softer lighting and nautical décor such as signal flags and seaside-inspired artwork.

Among the exterior features are a stone tower, ship lanterns, Adirondack-style chairs to encourage guest conversation and mingling, and window decals that spell out the types of seafood guests will find inside. Also featured: new signage with a contemporized logo and updated lobster icon and a new modifier highlighting Red Lobster’s signature fresh offerings.

“Our guests are at the heart of everything we do, and while their love for our delicious seafood and friendly service has never been stronger, they’ve expressed a desire for a more up-to-date atmosphere,” said Red Lobster president Kim Lopdrup. “We listened to their feedback and are very proud to now offer guests this beautiful new setting in which to enjoy a refreshing seaside dining experience.”

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What will you do with your 5%?

BY CSA STAFF

Another week and another full page ad in Target’s circular touting the REDcard Rewards program launched last fall. Nothing unusual about that right? The 5% savings program has been promoted heavily since its arrival last October to the point where it is impossible to look anywhere in a store and not seen 5% Rewards signs.

What’s different about the most recent ad is it enters some new territory in that Target is touting not only that its prices are low, but that they are in fact the lowest because shoppers are able to take advantage of a low-price promise and then save an additional 5%. The concept and messaging is similar to the situation in the home channel where Home Depot and Lowe’s have nearly identical low-price guarantees. However, they go a step further and promise to beat the competitor’s price by 10%, offering shoppers considerable savings on large-ticket purchases.

Target is essentially doing the same thing, and although its message is communicated in a tactful manner with the headline “Our low price promise just got 5% better,” it might just as well have said, “Our prices are lower than Walmart’s.”

Of course, Walmart has its “unbeatable” prices and will match the prices offered at Target as long as a customer is able to produce a printed ad showing an identical item at a local store. However, Walmart doesn’t honor the prices paid by those who receive loyalty program incentives and most organizations who conduct pricing studies don’t factor in loyalty program related savings.

That’s not how people shop though, is it? People do participate in loyalty program and they take those savings into consideration when determining which retailer has the lowest price. And price isn’t always just about the price of the item, because shoppers calculate price in more of a total cost of ownership framework that also incorporates such variables as convenience, service and the overall store experience from the time they arrive in the parking lot until they have paid for their merchandise and are on their way home.

That said, now that Target has rather gently raised the prospect that it has the lowest prices courtesy of the REDcard, the comings months will reveal just how aggressively the company wants to communicate its new-and-improved low-price promise.

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A new arrival for baby category

BY CSA STAFF

The Chicco brand of baby gear hit Target stores this week with three key items featured in the retailer’s weekly ad. Those same items were then called out in stores with red placards the size of album covers, in case anyone remembers what those were, that featured the advertised sales price. The items featured included a Chicco Cortina travel system for $260, a highchair for $130 and a playpen for $160.

It wasn’t all about Chicco in the weekly ad though as there were a total of six pages devoted to the department with featured categories such as infant apparent, consumables and furniture. The company also touted an online only offer of $60 on complete infant bedding set to generate Web traffic.

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