Annual Report 2014
Total Revenue of REWE Group
Total Revenue of REWE Combine
A Dialogue About
Trade of the FutureAlain Caparros in A Conversation with Dr David Bosshart:
“Consumers who physically shop in stores today expect to be spiritually rejuvenated”
Online trade is booming. In response to the growing importance of digitisation, the food retail sector is rolling out new business models. On the one hand, customers want the comfort and convenience found in online retail. On the other, they are looking for tangible, authentic experiences when they go shopping. This creates a dual challenge for retailers: Stationary trade must continue to modernise and create exciting experiences for shoppers. At the same time, though, e-commerce requires them to make rapid innovations and large investments.
ALAIN CAPARROS: Mr Bosshart, one of your theses is: “Consumers who physically shop in stores today expect to be spiritually rejuvenated and, under certain circumstances, even physically rejuvenated.” How should we retailers interpret this idea? Just how much spiritual nurturing must we provide to customers?
DR DAVID BOSSHART: The food retail sector in particular must learn to put customers and their consumption habits at the centre of their business operations and not just products and the shelf placement as it’s been up to now. In societies where everything is becoming more technical, faster and readily available, the need for “romantic experiences” is rising. This means that the future belongs to attractive foods offered at the right time and in the right engaging environment. It also means the importance of handicraft is rising and the significance of the hyperindustrial is falling. Products of the future must be “made for me, designed for me and performed for me”. The mantra of German food retailers in particular should be: Emotionality beats efficiency!
Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute for Economics and
of REWE Group
ALAIN CAPARROS: I don’t disagree – quite the opposite, in fact. I also think supermarkets must continue the evolution that is turning them into places of communication and social interaction. We need to bring back the spirit and atmosphere of market squares of the past. At the same time, though, we are wrestling with the challenges created by online retail and virtual trade platforms. At the end of the day, this means nothing less than a double challenge for us in terms of investments and innovations – stationary and virtual.
DR DAVID BOSSHART: That’s right. Digitisation is changing the entire value chain in retail: how we produce things, how we sell them and how people consume them. I think the most pressure to change is being applied to traditional brand products, discounters, the non-food sectors and shopping centres. Of course, today’s technical possibilities must be used in a complementary manner. But technology can never take the place of a physical shopping experience. Rather, this shopping experience should be intensified on the floor space of the store itself. Specifically, this means one thing: The Internet makes customer expectations visible and realisable. Customer data have become a critically important resource. A company that grasps the meaning of “big data” – that is, the possession and processing of as much data like these as possible – and harnesses them will understand the future desires of its customers and turn them into a sensual, eventful experience in the physical world.
ALAIN CAPARROS: We are being forced to perform a balancing act. The growing focus on online business does not mean we can let up even a little bit in our stationary business. We are determined to turn our customers into guests. To learn about their individual needs and to come up with tailored concepts to address them, we can also draw on customer insights like those we gain from such loyalty programmes as PAYBACK.
“Sustainable actions are the key to gaining customers’ trust. And this is particularly true in the era of online retail. We do not intend to just be part of the crowd. We are determined to be a driver of this trend.”
Alain Caparros, CEO of REWE Group
DR DAVID BOSSHART: As this understanding spreads, retailers will increasingly play the role of curators who create attractive floor space and draw on their own fundamental values, like sustainability, to select the products and services that can fulfil the specific desires and needs of their customers. This process also fuels the verticalisation trend in retail. Here, retailers are increasingly becoming verticalisers who do almost everything themselves.
ALAIN CAPARROS: The focus on values is a key point. And it is easy to see why. Our customers are focusing more than ever before on the more sustainable quality of products when they go shopping. They buy those products that meet their social and environmental standards. I think sustainable actions are the key to gaining customers’ trust. And this is particularly true in the era of online retail. We do not intend to just be part of the crowd. We are determined to be a driver of this trend. The latest figures speak for themselves: The number of people whom we call LOHAS, that is, those with a lifestyle of health and sustainability, is continuing to grow. Just 10 years ago, we didn’t even have 15 per cent in Germany. Today, the total is more than 25 per cent.
DR DAVID BOSSHART: Indeed, the demands customers are placing on products are changing rapidly. In the world of tomorrow, food will mutate into substitute for religion – from vegans to dietary priests – and into an ideology where regulatory officials continue to issue more and more rules. Critical consumers are looking for products that go beyond technical and objective quality. Authenticity, honesty and regionality strengthen consumers’ relationship with the food they buy. The job of retail is to create an environment for “good” decisions. The producers and their stories should be tangible and audible. They create credibility and, thus, help consumers find their way through a tangled world.
ALAIN CAPARROS: But this leads to yet another question: How can we balance the trends of technicalisation and digitisation with customers’ desire for “more tangible” authenticity?
“The demands customers are placing on products are changing rapidly. In the world of tomorrow, food will mutate into substitute for religion.”
Dr David Bosshart, trend researcher and CEO of Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute for Economics and Society
DR DAVID BOSSHART: I have a name for this bridge between increasing technicalisation and the yearning for romance: “smart mamas”. Or, to put it another way: Smart digital assistants will reel in the facts a consumer needs from the vast river of information that rapidly flows past. Personal preferences like organic and regional foods will be compared with individual parameters (single, family, workplace and shopping locations). They will then form a filter that personalises the information. The fusion with physical data like body weight, blood pressure or sleeping habits will make it possible to be even more precise. This is no longer science fiction: Rise in the United States and Oviva in Switzerland use a smartphone app to link individual nutrition and diet intentions with a personal coach. As you can see, the individual components for a “smart mama” are already in place. The only question is: Who will program them?
ALAIN CAPARROS: As food retailers with deep roots in the stationary business, we face a major threat: Given the real power of such digital retailers as Amazon and the data head start of companies like Google, we face the possibility of being left behind. I think we have to be on board the train even if we don’t know exactly where we are heading and have only a vague notion of how fast we will travel.
DR DAVID BOSSHART: The race for the last mile is intensifying. It’s just a matter of time before individual smart systems like nutrition coaches, retailers with their customer data and kitchen-supply apps come together and link their data. Internet giants are already setting the pace. Amazon is constantly expanding its services as Amazon Dash, Amazon Fresh and Same Day Delivery. Google is also making massive investments into the delivery service “Google Express”. Today, it’s more likely that Google or Amazon – and not a traditional retailer – will handle the programming of data fusion and take over the new services as a result.
ALAIN CAPARROS: But I remain optimistic that we can defend our strong position in retail. Our chance is the omnichannel business. From the perspective of the “pure player”, our stationary stores may be a burden when it comes to online retail. But I see them as our biggest chance to provide customers with a link to the best of both worlds. After all, we can meet both needs: the wish for what you call a “romantic experience” and the desire for comfort and convenience offered by online shopping. And we can creatively combine both of them.
Needs Strong BrandsThe Diversity and Individuality of Store Brands
Manufacturers’ brands or store brands? Customers buy both. A jar of Nutella graces their breakfast tables along with honey from Naturgut and cold cuts from Wilhelm Brandenburg. Customers place their trust in brands offering high quality and an attractive price-performance ratio. Now that they can buy the iconic hazelnut chocolate spread, Coca-Cola and those famous German “Tempo” tissues in virtually any supermarket, customers tend to opt for stores that also offer alternatives to branded products. Those alternatives are generally the store brands of retail companies – such as REWE Group and its sales companies.
On average, German private households – which include both singles and families – spend around 320 euros a month on food, beverages and tobacco products. When it comes to food and near-food items, store brands already account for over 40 per cent of revenue in the food retail sector, and the percentage is substantially higher with discount stores. And the trend is pointing upwards. At the same time, the number of people passionately committed to buying manufacturers’ brands has declined, falling from 52 per cent to 45 per cent between 2009 and 2013.
There are several reasons for this development. Some of the sector’s top players have criticised manufacturers for missing the boat with a number of trends recently. Others observe that retail companies have taken a more professional approach to developing and marketing their brands. To set themselves apart more clearly from the competition, they are creating their own products and marketing them in the same way manufacturers do – and with increasing success.
More than 100
store brandsare offered in the stores of REWE Group’s sales companies.
Nearly 90 per cent of customers in Germany perceive hardly any difference in quality between manufacturers’ and store brands.
A study published by the market research company MetrixLab in 2014 shows that nearly 90 per cent of customers in Germany perceive hardly any difference in quality between manufacturers’ products and retail companies’ store brands. For them, the store brand is not just some cheap alternative from which they expect to see less in terms of quality. Rather, 85 per cent of consumers apply the same high standards to both store and manufacturers’ brands. Furthermore, 72 per cent of consumers think store brands can compete with manufacturers’ established brands in terms of packaging design. The comparable figure in 2013 was 66 per cent.
REWE Group Sales Companies Are Pioneers
REWE Group and its companies in Germany and abroad have played a decisive role in this trend. Over the last three years, all German sales brands in discount and full-range stores have critically appraised and optimised their store brand strategies just as consumer and DIY stores have done. In 2013, PENNY was the first discounter to offer store brands under its own brand name. The PENNY brand, which is positioned in the entry-level segment, already encompasses several hundred everyday products offering very good quality at the lowest possible price.
The trend towards consumer customisation is reflected in retail companies’ ranges, and the goals are clear: The companies want, firstly, to set themselves apart and to create a unique selling point with exclusive products. Secondly, they would like to make their own sales locations more attractive and enhance customer loyalty. And thirdly, they aim to improve their own margins, which are low in the intense price competition in the retail sector. This final goal served as the main reason many retail companies launched no-name brands in the 1980s. Me-too products, i.e. slightly modified imitations of manufacturers’ brands, were created to lure price-sensitive customers.
Identifying Trends and Occupying Niches
PENNY was the first discount store in Germany to sell products under its own name.
Today, the world of store brands is different. PENNY, too, has added new products that attack the mid-range market segment less by focusing on the price and more by means of an overall concept that caters to increasingly individualised customer requirements. “We are constantly looking for niches to occupy with products we have developed ourselves,” says Sandra Leiendecker, Store Brands Operations Manager at PENNY. Customer proximity and market studies, she says, are useful aids in pinpointing these niches. She also has her eye on the international market – especially the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Brands such as penny to go and Naturgut were launched in late 2013 and late 2014, respectively. Penny to go targets people who enjoy fast, no-frills eating – whether on the run, in the office or at home. The range of ready-made snacks includes breakfast muesli and juices, sandwiches, wraps and even sushi. As Leiendecker points out: “We are trying out a lot of different things in order to get a better idea of what our customers prefer. For instance, we also offered soups. These were a hit in the Netherlands and the UK, but did not do so well here in Germany. Some cultural differences remain, it seems – also when it comes to food.”
“We are trying out a lot of different things in order to get a better idea of what our customers prefer.”
Sandra Leiendecker, Store Brands Operations Manager at PENNY
Leiendecker is particularly proud of the Naturgut store brand. Once again, PENNY was the first discounter in Germany to cover several contemporary nutrition trends with a single brand: organic, regional and vegetarian products for those who want enjoyment with a clear conscience. The range comprises as many as 100 items from different product groups, including fruit and vegetables, spreads, dairy products, grains and much more. Eighty-five per cent of these products are available in certified organic quality, 15 are vegetarian and/or vegan and some are sourced from the culinary regions – in such countries as Germany, Austria and Switzerland – named on the packaging. It is easy to see that inspiration for the design of the products came from the other side of the Atlantic: It is contemporary and unconventional, with a lot of attention to detail. “We felt it was particularly important to make the added value of these products immediately obvious to our customers in a playful manner,” Leiendecker says. The approach has proved successful: Since 2010, the number of different items offered under the PENNY store brands has risen by 6 per cent, 7 per cent and even 9 per cent annually in 2014 and 2015.
Create Added Value and Provide Orientation
The desire to design new product families offering added value also applies to store brands in REWE supermarkets. And of course this includes continuing to develop ja!, Germany’s best-known and most popular store brand. Following its relaunch in spring 2015, the ja! brand will be positioned more firmly than before as a high-quality alternative to discount-chain products in the entry-level segment. The simple design – large expanses of plain white plus a blue font – will remain, but it will be enhanced by photos on the packaging designed to convey an overall stronger feeling of quality. What’s more, an additional line on the packaging – “Eine Marke von REWE” (A REWE Brand) – will underscore the link to the sales location. After all, the offer of store brands is a decisive criterion for almost half of all consumers when it comes to choosing where to shop.
The REWE frei von and REWE Feine Welt brands cater to customers with quite specific needs.
In 2006, REWE began building a stringent store-brand architecture. Florian Königsbüscher, Store-Brand Marketing Operations Manager at REWE, describes the various development phases of store brands like this: “Most retail companies started out with what are known as generics and me-too products – just like we did with ja!. The next step is to occupy the higher-profile segments: For us at REWE, that means “Beste Wahl” (Best Choice), which stands for top-quality brand products with an excellent price-performance ratio. “REWE Bio”, previously known as “Füllhorn”, is another brand for the mass market. Finally, we are taking a closer look at individual target groups that have quite specific eating habits and segmenting the market more finely, for example with the REWE frei von (free of) brand – which targets those suffering from gluten or lactose intolerance.”
“Our aim is to continue refining product groups to suit our customers’ needs.”
Florian Königsbüscher, Store-Brand Marketing Operations Manager at REWE
Is the goal behind this very sophisticated step-by-step plan to perhaps oust manufacturers’ brands altogether? “No, that’s not our intention. In some merchandise groups, manufacturers’ brands enjoy a position of absolute dominance – just think of Nutella, for instance,” Königsbüscher says. “We don’t want to challenge such a position – nor are we able to. Our aim is to continue refining product groups to suit our customers’ needs.”
Let go and Create Something New
Sometimes you need to start with a clean slate if you want to ensure your store-brand architecture can be built on a sound foundation. That was the case with toom Baumarkt DIY store. Before carrying out a brand realignment, toom had a total of nine different store brands. By late 2011, that number had been reduced to just two. At the base of the brand strategy is “b1 – besser sparen” (b1 – save better), an entry-level brand comprising more than 800 products. Category Management combined the several different individual brands of the mid-range price segment to create the toom quality brand, which today consists of around 7,000 items – or around 14,000 if you include plants.
“The toom brand stands for reliable, very competitively priced, high-quality products that can rival manufacturers’ brands.”
Marion Gorjub, Category Manager Store Brand at toom Baumarkt DIY store
“The goal was to combine all our existing individual brands into a single umbrella brand – one our customers found immediately accessible,” says Marion Gorjub, Category Manager Store Brand at toom Baumarkt DIY store. Conveying the name of the sales company on the store brand was a logical step towards a more homogeneous brand image, she adds. “The toom brand stands for reliable, very competitively priced, high-quality products that can rival manufacturers’ brands. These items represent a genuine alternative for our customers,” Gorjub says.
Furthermore, the products sold under toom quality brand undergo demanding testing that generally goes beyond statutory requirements. Many toom products even bear the TÜV Exclusive Seal. This means they have passed stringent individual tests in areas such as workmanship, consumer use, durability and resilience. “Another advantage is our systemic approach, for instance as regards floor coverings. In addition to laminates in a wide array of patterns and designs, we also offer high-quality insulation and perfectly matched accessories.” Gorjub explains, adding: “What’s more, the uniform design of our packaging provides our customers with orientation.”
itemsare sold under the toom quality brand.
In spring 2014, toom added two new collections to its quality-brand range. With its new “talents” for house and garden, toom is tapping two current trends – DIY and organic foods – and offering customers all-in-one solutions. For example, they can decorate their homes in a certain style with a coordinated array of wall paints, wallpapers, curtains, cushions and floor rugs. The toom talents for the garden allow customers to create their own organic vegetable patches – with seeds, seedlings, soil and fertiliser. Here, too, toom has anticipated consumers’ wishes: According to a survey carried out by forsa on behalf of toom, one in two consumers considers organic quality an important factor for his or her own garden.
Moving Trade, Transforming the Market
With a market share of 50 per cent, Ja! Natürlich is Austria’s No. 1 organic brand.
The situation across the border in Austria is a very particular one: Since REWE International AG began operations there, it has been centrally managing its store brands for all of its sales companies – just like a manufacturer. The figures speak for themselves. In 2014, the organic brand “Ja! Natürlich” celebrated its 20th anniversary. After starting operations in Austria in 1994 with a range of 30 products, the company today offers more than 1,100 items and posted annual revenue of 355 million euros in 2014.
“We got the organic movement rolling, and today it’s part of mainstream society.”
Martina Hörmer, Managing Director of Ja! Natürlich Organic Products
That is something Martina Hörmer, Managing Director of Ja! Natürlich Organic Products and the person responsible for store brands, is extremely proud of. “We got the organic movement rolling, and today it’s part of mainstream society,” Hörmer says. Nine out of ten Austrians claim to eat organic food at least occasionally, and 60 per cent of them have bought at least one
Ja! Natürlich product in the last month. As 80 per cent of the products are sourced in Austria, there is a positive impact on the local agricultural sector. Ja! Natürlich has partnerships with over 7,000 organic farmers and 160 partner businesses. Today, 20 per cent of farmland in Austria is organically cultivated, making the country the European leader in this area.
per centof Ja! Natürlich products are sourced in Austria.
sustainability labels such
as the EU Ecolabel and
Blauer Engel (Blue Angel).
“Ja! Natürlich is more than just the signature brand of the BILLA and MERKUR sales companies,” Hörmer says. “Our brand forms part of our identity as a retail company. The burgeoning range of organic products is making the two companies generally more sustainable.” Not only that: They are more contemporary and innovative as well. Niche ranges such as “Vega Vita”, comprising 80 items made exclusively from vegetable ingredients, are also having a positive effect. This store brand is currently undergoing a comprehensive relaunch, and Hörmer expects that to bring about big changes – including, over the long term, a doubling of revenue.
Among Austrian consumers,
Ja! Natürlich has an astonishingly high aided brand awareness rating of 100 per cent. In terms of modernity and pioneering spirit,
18-to-29-year-olds rate it as highly as brands such as Apple, Samsung and Audi.
The sales companies already have so much faith in the development of their store brands they are even daring to enter product groups – such as drug store items – that are difficult for retail store brands. Since April 2014, for instance, BIPA has been offering 11 eco-friendly household products under the “bi good” brand. They are not only highly effective in terms of tackling the task at hand, but are also manufactured in Austria in a resource-saving manner from renewable substances and are biodegradable in a short time. With their diverse approaches, REWE Group and its sales companies are demonstrating that store brands today are more than just a means to pump up margins. When correctly positioned, they have the potential to transform niche trends into mass movements. Ja! Natürlich is the best example of a branded item in the best sense of the word. After all, every big change starts with small steps. In the case of individual consumers, for instance, that means selecting items from a wide range to fill their breakfast tables with the products that best meet their individual needs – no matter whether those products are high-quality conventional items or organic, regional or vegan ones.
“Oh Angie!” – REWE Group’s
An increasing number of people are enjoying eating out more and more often, and they are attaching greater value to healthy nutrition and good service. Oh Angie! is focusing on this target group. REWE Group’s new gastronomy concept is designed for highly frequented locations, either in the direct neighbourhood of or integrated into REWE supermarkets. REWE Group is thus pushing a strategy to transform its stores into social meeting points where customers can combine shopping for food with eating out.
Personalised Travel with
Personalised travel offers and an extremely diverse range constitute the unique selling point of the operators of DER Touristik. Dertour is the market leader for customised travel and focuses on Europe, North America and Asia. DER Touristik has also launched Travelix, a dynamic new tour operator offering seaside holidays at prices that are updated daily. When booking a holiday, the customer has the freedom to combine the most attractively priced flights and accommodation to create a personalised holiday package.
Ja! Natürlich –
A Success Story
The success story of Ja! Natürlich, Austria’s biggest organic brand, began in 1994. At that time, Ja! Natürlich was one of the first brands worldwide to offer affordably priced, purely organic products in supermarkets. The top priority of Ja! Natürlich and its partners is to bring business in harmony with nature. That is why no chemical pesticides are used with Ja! Natürlich, and species-appropriate animal husbandry is a matter of course. Today, the organic brand’s range encompasses more than 1,100 products.
PENNY with Local Flair – “Door to Door with PENNY”
PENNY is repositioning itself in Hamburg, and the slogan “Door to Door with PENNY” says it all: In almost
90 stores across Hamburg, the discounter is presenting a concept specifically conceived for the city. The PENNY logo will be extended to include names such as “St. Pauli”, “Steilshoop” or “Kiez” in order to underscore each store’s affinity with its local area. The range of goods in the stores will have a local focus as well, featuring northern German specialities such as the meat dish “Labskaus”, Finkenwerder-style plaice and Hamburg eel soup.
The Treats in the
Shopping CartA More Sustainable Product Range
When they shop, customers pay attention to quality, price and, increasingly, the production process. They prefer to buy products that live up to standards for society and the environment. REWE Group has adapted its product range to meet these concerns and now offers a good 6,700 more sustainable products. However, consumers need easy-to-understand information and clear orientation to decide in favour of these products. The PRO PLANET label serves as one guidepost.
Things are buzzing in Josef Steiner's greenhouse in the Upper Bavarian town of Kirchweidach. Bumblebees are whirling among thousands of tomatoes and bell pepper plants that fill the facility. In the process, they are going about the job of pollinating the tomato blossoms. The farmer also uses insects to control pests. Josef Steiner has been growing vegetables at his 12-hectare facility since 2014. His first harvest yielded about 3,200 tons of tomatoes and 1,200 tons of bell peppers. “What matters to us is not the number of kilos we yield,” he says. “It is the quality that counts. And that means we want to have delicious produce more than anything else.” The farmer sells his crops to REWE and PENNY stores in Bavaria. This benefits everyone involved: The farmer harvests his produce only after it has reached peak ripeness. Thanks to the short distances involved, the food turns up in stores just a few days later. Steiner's produce bears the PRO PLANET label of REWE Group. The label is worn by those products that have a lower impact on the environment and society. The sustainability label acts as a type of navigator. Customers who buy tomatoes grown in Steiner's greenhouse will see information on the PRO PLANET label about environmentally more conscious production on the packaging.
hectaresis the size of the greenhouse in Kirchweidach.
In Germany, vegetables are grown almost exclusively in large greenhouses. After all, shoppers want to have tomatoes year round and not just in summer when they are in season. It takes warm temperatures and much light to produce these crops. Normally, this work requires a tremendous amount of energy and high levels of CO2 emissions. Josef Steiner is taking a new approach. He has developed a particularly sustainable energy-management system based almost exclusively on the use of renewable resources. It is unique in Europe. His plants are warmed by geothermal energy. Electricity is produced by the farmer's own photovoltaic system. And when it is time to irrigate, he draws on rainwater collected in a reservoir. Water that is not absorbed by the plants is collected once again for reuse. This system creates a completely independent water supply for the farm.
Sustainability Has Left Its Niche
Labels like those worn by Josef Steiner's tomatoes are important for customers. They are interested in the origin of foods and want to know how they were produced. The price is hardly the only factor going into decisions about what ends up in the shopping cart. This realisation has also been confirmed by an imug study titled “Sustainable Consumption – Mainstream or Niche?”. At the request of REWE Group, the consulting firm examined German awareness levels of sustainability and the barriers to it. REWE Group initiated the study to learn more about customer needs. The result: Conscious consumption is on the minds of many consumers today. “They want to have more sustainable products,” says Dr Ingo Schoenheit, Managing Partner and CEO of imug Beratungsgesellschaft. “This is something more than a passing fancy. The study found that in Germany we are much farther along than we tell each other.” Although the typical sustainable consumer is female, well educated and well paid, people in virtually all strata of society have decided to act more sustainably. But they have different ideas about what this means.
Conscious consumption is on the minds of many consumers today. They want to have more sustainable products. This is something
more than a passing fancy.
imug Study Identifies Customers` Expectations
Consumers link sustainability to measurable benefits. Shoppers who buy sustainable products want something more than just a good conscience, the imug study found. The reasons why customers buy such products are broad. No single aspect stands out – sustainability is evolving into a general quality standard, similar to freshness and taste. The various facets are fusing to create specific expectations for products. From the consumer's perspective, they could mean something like organic or produced under fair working conditions. More than half of consumers associate foods bearing sustainability labels with higher quality.
Added to this is the feeling of doing something good when purchasing these products. For the environment, for people at the production site and for the consumers themselves as well. And customers are increasingly willing to pay something extra. In the 2014 GfK Consumer Index, every fourth respondent said that he or she preferred to purchase fairly traded or organic products. And the respondents said they were willing to pay more money to buy them. The 2013 Otto Trend Study found that nearly 50 per cent of consumers had increased their spending on more sustainable products than they had one year or two years ago. And, more and more, they focus not only on what they buy, but also on how they shop. Fifty-two per cent of consumers consciously cut back on buying large quantities of food that they store as a way of avoiding rubbish production.
The Will is There, but Implementation Remains Poor
But individuals' statements about buying more sustainable products or their plans to do so are not reflected in the contents of their shopping carts. Survey results are not a true representation of the market. Revenue generated by more sustainable products is certainly rising year after year. Nonetheless, it remains at a low level. If consumers' shopping habits truly reflected their expressed attitudes, the market share of these products would be higher. imug has an explanation for this phenomenon: Consumers are not keeping their shopping resolutions. They do indeed like the idea of having a shopping cart filled with more sustainable goods. But they buy conventionally produced items, in part out of habit. They like this cheese and that bread and, as a result, many of them remain true to a brand.
The imug study said one reason for this discrepancy was the issue itself: Sustainability is a complex topic, and it requires time-consuming consideration. Many consumers are overwhelmed by their own desire to take the best-possible ethical decisions. And this goes beyond the products they use every day. The issue turns up in advertising for electricity, holiday travel and even insurance. This puts pressure on customers to acquire information. It takes time to shop more consciously and to rethink old habits. The desire to consume in a different manner produces stress, something some people want to avoid especially in their free time. Men, in particular, want to do their shopping quickly and simply. The authors of the imug study argue that trade and industry must reduce the complexity of the issue itself if men are to be able to shop more sustainably.
“When taking their shopping decisions, customers need simplified information and clear, visible signals.”
Dr Ingo Schoenheit, Managing Partner and CEO of imug Beratungsgesellschaft
Explaining the Benefits – Simply and Honestly
imug said the responsibility for introducing sustainable consumption to the mainstream of the marketplace lies not just with consumers. “As a critical lever in the process, all players should examine and sharpen their own perception as a way of more realistically presenting the many small changes that have occurred and, thus, the success story of sustainable consumption,” Dr Schoenheit says. “When taking their shopping decisions, customers need simplified information and clear, visible signals.” It already works with prices. But things could be better with sustainability. imug identifies this as the biggest barrier facing conscious consumption. After all, even those people willing to take the time and compare products in order to select the more sustainable ones face a challenge. Consumers easily get lost in the jungle of seals, labels and buzz words, the study found. It takes more than information to provide help. The study`s authors call for a navigation system to be set up: easily spotted signals with credible, understandable content. Ideally this is provided by a trustworthy source and backed up by employees at the point of sale. For the industry, this means they must reduce the amount of information. Not every product innovation will turn heads. The opposite is true: Excessive information and new explanations wear out customers. Customers need a guide that can help them determine just how sustainable the products in their shopping carts actually are.
One Label Points the Way
Since 2010, customers in Germany and Austria have been able to use the PRO PLANET label to see at a glance what makes products more sustainable. The blue label already adorns over 500 store-brand items. These products include fruits and vegetables, baked goods, fish, stationery, toiletries and wall paint. REWE Group is continuously expanding this range of products.
the PRO PLANET label.
The three rounded corners of the PRO PLANET label represent the three aspects of sustainability: ecology, social conditions, economy.
If a product code is entered at www.proplanet-label.com, all relevant product information can be accessed. The aspect of sustainability (e.g. protecting biodiversity) provides information on the specific ecological and social added value of each product.
The PRO PLANET concept is aimed at broad segments of customers and the market – not at niches. More sustainable solutions that the label has initiated are able to gain mass appeal. This is the aim. REWE Group has teamed up with its suppliers and the animal-protection organisation PROVIEH e.V. to develop new approaches to animal welfare in chicken production. Under this plan, suppliers will increase standards step by step and improve animal welfare. Breeders have pledged to use straw bales and pecking stones as structural and activity elements as well as to reduce stocking density. In addition, PRO PLANET poultry is not fed genetically modified (GM) soya. Laying hens whose eggs bear the label are given GM-free feed. Suppliers have also pledged to avoid trimming the beaks of at least one of these flocks. This will make it possible to obtain information about which husbandry practices are necessary to prevent chickens from picking their feathers and engaging in cannibalism in spite of the trimmed beaks.
An independent advisory board takes the ultimate decision regarding whether a product deserves to bear the label. Before taking this decision, experts review a product's entire value chain. They identify problems and develop individual approaches. Scientists regularly examine individual products. The label includes the individual sustainability aspect and a code number that can be used to obtain more information online. One example of this information includes production standards that must be fulfilled and the reason why this product is more environmentally conscious than others are. “A high level of transparency is a key to the credibility of PRO PLANET and the orientation of the consumer,” says Georg Abel, a member of the PRO PLANET Advisory Board and Federal Managing Director of the consumer organisation VERBRAUCHER INITIATIVE e.V. The packaging of the tomatoes grown in Kirchweidach bear the words “grown resource efficiently”. Customers can learn more about Josef Steiner's farming operation if they want.
PRO PLANET Products at
toom Baumarkt DIY Stores
Assuming responsibility and acting sustainably – this is what toom Baumarkt DIY stores stand for. One key pillar of their sustainability strategy is creating a more environmentally conscious product range in stores. This is particularly the case for the toom quality brand. Customers recognise environmentally conscious products through such labels as the Blauer Engel (blue angel), the symbol for environmental, health and consumer protection. Some toom quality-brand products also bear the PRO PLANET label. toom Baumarkt DIY store is continuously expanding its range of more sustainable products.
PRO PLANET Products
Eggs, fish, wine, fruit and vegetables – in the Austrian sales lines of REWE Group, customers will find a wide range of PRO PLANET products. The PRO PLANET apple producers in Styria are committed not just to resource-conserving farming practices. They have also set up insect hotels and flower strips that create nesting areas for bees and other insects. Austria's PRO PLANET free-range eggs are produced in a GM-free manner. No anti-sprouting agents may be used to produce PRO PLANET onions.
More Sustainable Travel with
The only way to meet travellers' needs and to protect the future of holiday destinations is to practice more sustainable tourism. With a global network of agencies in holiday destinations, DER Touristik operates in nearly every part of the world. As a result, the travel company assumes a special responsibility for nature and people in travel destinations. Under the label “DER Welt verpflichtet” (committed to the world), DER Touristik has bundled its sustainability activities and works on behalf of environmental protection and social issues.
Fresh Goods on
DemandOnline Shopping Is Becoming More Popular
More and more customers are taking advantage of the opportunity to order food online and have it delivered to their homes – because they want to save time, or cannot lift heavy loads, or simply because it is convenient. REWE Group has recognised this market potential and intends to become the largest online food retailer. Achieving that goal will mean not only having to design an attractive, easy-to-use online shop: An even more decisive issue is what is known as the “last mile” – the distance from the store or warehouse to the customer’s front door. With their highly complex, high-performance information technology, REWE Digital and REWE Systems are making sure the desired goods get to the right place at the right time.
Saturday is the biggest shopping day of the week, with Friday coming in at a close second. Half the population starts out the weekend buying food and beverages in the supermarket. For many people, this ritual marks the start of their free time. But people with small children, little time to shop or mobility problems could lose their nerve in the crush of these two mega shopping days and would probably prefer to spend their weekends some other way. Many consumers use the internet these days anyway: For quite some time now they have been doing their banking online as well as buying clothes and booking holidays. Since spring 2011, REWE has been offering them the option of purchasing food online with just a few mouse clicks.
The REWE Lieferservice shop is always open, and customers can order what they need at any time of the day or night. All they have to do is select a store in the delivery region and specify the date and time for delivery. Customers can reserve a delivery date three weeks in advance and, up to one day before delivery, can still add items to, or remove them from their shopping baskets or change the quantities ordered. The range of goods being offered is the same as that in the store. Depending on the location, it comprises an average of 12,000 items from all product groups: fruit and vegetables, refrigerated and dairy products, beverages, drug store items, frozen goods and non-food items.
Selected with Great Care
On the day of the delivery, an employee in the local store selects the products for the customer's shopping basket. Known as “pickers”, they are just as choosy as the customers themselves would be: They make sure the products have long shelf lives and carefully examine the fruit and vegetables. Sausage and cheese are freshly cut and weighed at the counter, just as the customer wants.
Once the shopping has been done, a REWE delivery van brings the bags full of groceries to the customer's door. An employee personally carries the order to the customers' door – even if they live on the fifth floor. The customers have time to check the goods; if they do not like any substitute items added to the shopping basket, they can have them taken away again. Payment is made without cash either by credit card, by PayPal or on account. A direct debit option is offered from the third order onwards. As with in-store purchases, customers can use their PAYBACK cards to collect loyalty points. The REWE employee also deducts any deposit amounts for empties and returns them to the store.
Picked up on the Way
For those who want to save themselves delivery costs and do not mind going to the store, REWE also offers a pick-up service at 13 of its stores. The customer shops online, sets a time period for the pick-up at the store and can then directly take away the items – a good opportunity to grab some fresh bread from the bakery or drop off shoes for repair.
REWE Digital, the company’s online unit, keeps on growing. In 2014, REWE Group acquired the cloud computing specialists commercetools and ZooRoyal in order to continue expanding its e-commerce activities.
The vision behind these services is this: REWE Group wants to use its digital services to become the biggest online company in the food retail sector. That is why it has strengthened its e-commerce activities and established REWE Digital, where the majority of its internet activities are focused. The company’s IT experts are also responsible for REWE Lieferservice and further enhancing the system.
Popular with Families and Singles
REWE was one of the first food retailers in Germany to combine its online shop with delivery and pick-up services. Originally offered in six major cities – Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Düsseldorf and Munich – the service is now available at 35 locations, and REWE can deliver to almost 70 towns. Two additional delivery warehouses support the service.
delivers the order to your door.
townsare already supplied by REWE’s online shop. Moreover, in many locations, customers can save time using the pick-up service.
“We are finding that people in major urban areas are increasingly willing to order food online,” explains Alain Caparros, CEO of REWE Group. “REWE Lieferservice allows us to reach people, such as families and working singles, who have little time for day-to-day shopping,” says Jean-Jacques van Oosten, Chief Digital Officer at REWE Digital, adding: “In particular, beverages, dairy products, and fruit and vegetables are popular with our online customers.” Of course, you can also order goods for other people. Children, for instance, can place orders for their parents if it’s too hard for their fathers or mothers to get to the store. Then there are the young people who live in big cities and often do not own a car: They like to get crates and heavy bags home-delivered. REWE currently has a fleet of 184 state-of-the-art refrigerated vehicles for this purpose. Every delivery van is equipped with a three-chamber cooling system offering different temperatures for frozen, refrigerated and fresh goods – so the cold chain is never broken.
“We are finding that people in major urban areas are increasingly willing to order food online.”
Alain Caparros, CEO of REWE Group
Learning from the Brits
What for many people is already a matter of course with items like books and clothing is still far from standard when it comes to food. International comparisons show that online shopping in the food sector is only just getting started in Germany, where delivery services accounted for less than 1 per cent of the total food market in 2014. The British are the European champions in this discipline, and online supermarket shopping is already an everyday activity in the UK. In 2013, 27 per cent of customers there made use of this convenient method of shopping; the comparable figure for Germany was just 11 per cent. Forecasts predict, however, that delivery services will grow strongly in Germany, too – because the way consumers think is changing.
In 2014, 2.34 million Germans purchased food or beverages online, almost 400,000 more than a year earlier. According to a representative survey carried out by the market research institute Dr Grieger & Cie., revenue in this segment will grow by more than 40 per cent in 2015. This is a niche market with potential. In relative terms, however, the total market share remains low. A survey by Germany’s Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM) demonstrates that demand for reliable and convenient food deliveries is growing in particular among digital natives, with more than one in four internet users trying out services of this kind in January 2015. Customers are increasingly recognising the advantages of online shopping: They are independent of business hours, no longer need to lug heavy bags or crates of bottles, and have more time for themselves, their families and their hobbies.
In 1999,BILLA launched an online delivery service in Austria. The company is constantly expanding its delivery network and is already able to serve many rural regions in addition to major urban centres.
In Austria, BILLA already offers an online delivery service in more than 600 towns. It is the only Austrian food retailer to deliver goods ordered online to customers in eight of the country’s nine federal states. The online shop has a range comprising more than 6,000 products. With BILLA’s “Same Day Delivery” service, customers ordering before midday receive their goods by the same evening.
High-Performance Background Systems
Digitisation is a trend affecting consumers and trade companies in equal measure. The rapid availability of goods ordered online and their trouble-free delivery to customers would not be possible without efficient merchandise-information and logistics systems. These are provided by REWE Systems – REWE Group’s central provider of information and telecommunication systems and solutions.
If, for example, a litre of milk is ordered and delivered, a complex, fully automated process sets into motion. The item leaving the store is booked out of the central planning system, regardless of whether the item is ordered online or purchased in a store. The key variables for the system include: inventory levels, sales – e.g. the number of delivered milk cartons – and forecasted demand. Sophisticated algorithms are used to estimate demand for every store, for every business day of the year and for every item. The shelf life of the goods in stock, what is known as the batch details, and the delivery cycle between warehouse and store are also factored in.
In this way, the specialists arrive at quite diverse time series for each product. “If a REWE store also offers its range online, it becomes inordinately more difficult to make these forecasts,” says Thomas Friedl, Division Manager of Trade Systems at REWE Systems. That is because customers sometimes order items on a Monday that they do not want to have delivered until Friday. And in the intervening period, the inventory level changes on the basis of store sales.
Unlike humans, the central store planning system developed by REWE Systems has no trouble handling the billions of individual items of information known as “big data”. It calculates the quantity of inventory to be ordered in the warehouses and automatically generates an order – and it does this as late in the process as it possibly can, so the demand figures displayed are as current as possible and the goods in the warehouse can be picked just in time for delivery to the particular store.
Optimising Flows of Goods Using Efficient IT Systems
The IT systems ensure that the sophisticated picking strategies used in any one of REWE Group’s 120 warehouses are seamlessly meshed with the optimal routing of the lorry fleet. After all, surplus stock has to be avoided while still keeping the shelves full. In addition, it must be ensured that REWE Lieferservice customers get their preferred products on time – even on Saturdays. That way, people can maintain all their personal rituals.
the Online Retail Brand
DER.COM is the central internet portal for more than 500 DER travel agencies in Germany. The internet portal and
DER Deutsches Reisebüro have merged to form a single sales concept, allowing customers to gather information, book trips and obtain expert advice through any channel they like. Visitors to DER.COM find not only the company’s full range of travel offers, but can also directly contact a personal travel adviser in a local DER travel agency. It doesn't matter if the customer books online or at an agency, the price is the same.
PENNY is the first food retailer in Germany to provide its customers with an opportunity to use the “shopkick” app and earn bonus points while shopping. Customers can earn “kicks” just by entering one of the discounter’s stores across the country or collect bonus points by scanning selected branded products. Germany is shopkick’s first market outside the United States, where the app already has over 8 million users. Shopkick uses ultrasound technology to connect to customers’ smartphones.
Pilot Project for
Contactless payment at the check-out by smartphone using near field communication (NFC) technology – REWE, PENNY, TEMMA and Oh Angie! in Berlin offer this convenient form of payment to customers who have NFC-capable Android smartphones.
REWE Group has joined a partnership of six trade groups and all German mobile phone operators to promote secure and easy mobile payments and offers this option at around 170 of its stores across the greater Berlin region. This enables REWE Group to not only provide its customers with the latest range of goods, but also offer them state-of the-art payment options. The pilot project will run for one year.
BIPA Online Shop with
“online only” Products
The BIPA online shop with home delivery service has been around since 2011. Everyday products are the top sellers in the online shop, too. In addition to the in-store range, the shop offers over 2,000 exclusive “online only” products from the areas of fragrances, beauty, haircare, living, love and baby. In 2014, BIPA expands its online shop to include a “Click & Collect” feature. This enables customers to place an online order and pick up their purchases the same day in the store of their choice without incurring any additional costs. Since April, customers in Vienna have been able to opt for express delivery within 90 minutes of order placement or “Same Day” delivery within an extremely brief 90-minute time frame.
at HomeRegional Products Gain Popularity
More and more people consider the regional origin of products to be important. Consumers are particularly interested in buying regional products when they are looking for fresh foods like eggs, fruit and vegetables. There are many reasons for this trend: Regional products generally have to be transported over shorter distances, a fact that makes them especially fresh and enjoyable. Avoiding unnecessary transports protects the environment and boosts the local economy as well.
At the end of April in the Rhineland, the first apple blossoms have begun to burst forth at the fruit farm near Meckenheim that is run by Michael Manner. However, the farm can face a rough time when frost arrives at night. If the delicate blossoms freeze, they cannot be pollinated and thus will be unable to produce a single apple. For this reason, Manner keeps his ear attuned to the weather report each day. If he happens to hear the word “frost”, he showers water on the crowns of his trees. The water freezes and forms a protective layer of ice on the apple blossoms. This generates something called the heat of solidification. The result: It protects the blossoms.
He also inspects his apple trees every week. If they are producing too much fruit, his employees and he will thin out the blossoms in a process that ensures the apples will be plump and the tree will also produce a crop in the following year. To produce a full crop, just 5 per cent of the blossoms on a tree must develop into fruit during a full bloom period in which no killing frost occurs. By mid-August, the early types of apples are ready to be picked, including the Delbarestivale. The main harvest begins about two weeks later, when it is time to pluck such varieties as Elstar from the trees. The harvest lasts until the end of October. During this period, Manner employs about 50 people at his farm.
After being picked, the apples are placed in a refrigerated warehouse or in an ultra-low oxygen (ULO) storage facility, depending on the variety of apple. “We regulate the oxygen and carbon dioxide composition of the warehouse air in such a manner that the fruit can remain stored in the best possible way for as long as possible without losing any quality,” Manner says. When an order arrives from a customer like REWE, the apples are removed from the ULO warehouse, washed, sorted and packed according to size, or calibre, as the experts call it. A REWE Regional label is placed on the apples, and the fruit is then shipped. A short time later, the fruit turns up on the shelves of REWE stores in the Region West.
Good Things Are so Close By
prefer regional products.
REWE realised early on that customers wanted products grown in regions near them. The company has offered regional products in its stores for years now. In August 2012, it introduced the national store brand REWE Regional. "Ökobarometer” (Organic Barometer), a survey conducted by the German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in 2013, found that 92 per cent of respondents preferred to buy food produced in their own regions. A growing desire for regional identity has emerged in the face of spreading globalisation and the unlimited availability of products from all parts of the world.
Most consumers do not pay much attention to whether conventional or organic farming methods are applied. As a rule, regionality is more important to women and city dwellers than it is to other population groups. Older, well-educated and high-income people tend to buy regional products as well. Three out of four respondents are willing to pay higher prices for these foods. They want retailers to support family-run companies and to see that farmers receive fair prices. According to 87 per cent of respondents, the regional origin of products has become the most critical argument for customers who buy organic foods. This desire was followed by species-appropriate husbandry (85 per cent) and the lowest-possible levels of emissions (83 per cent).
regional fruit and vegetables
because they taste better.
Consumers also have individual reasons for choosing regional products: They simply taste better. This conclusion was drawn by a 2014 study conducted in Germany, Austria and Switzerland by the consulting firm A.T.Kearney. On a scale of 1 (unimportant) to 5 (very important), taste ranked first with 4.4 points, followed closely by freshness with 4.3 points. The study's authors say that people decide to buy regional products in particular because they identify with their home regions. This is also the case when they buy store brands. A survey conducted by the market research institute MetrixLab found that 80 per cent of respondents preferred to buy store brands from their home regions as a way of supporting the local economy.
Regional continues to grow.
Depending on the season and region, customers will find between ten and 65 regional fruit and vegetable products on the shelves of their REWE stores – and the brand's success continues. For this reason, the group began in the summer of 2014 to progressively expand the REWE Regional range: Milk from Hesse, apple juice from North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg and pork salami from Bavaria are just a few examples.
REWE has maintained partnerships with the producers of REWE Regional products frequently for years. Depending on the particular harvest, REWE will conduct special sales to promote these products. Michael Manner appreciates the support: “We profit from the sales security that REWE offers for our regional products. This is a big benefit, particularly when times get tough.”
More Transparency for Consumers
Many consumers want to have clearer regulations regarding the labelling of regional products, according to the German Agriculture Association (DLG) study “Regionality from the Consumers' Point of View” released in the autumn of 2013.
provides a quick overview of the origin of ingredients found
in regional products.
The regional label “Regionalfenster” introduced at the beginning of 2014 is designed to provide some help. The criteria were worked out at the request of the German Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL). The use of the blue-white label is voluntary. It provides information about a product's main ingredients and production location. One major criterion is that the main ingredient as well as other key ingredients like potatoes in dumpling dough must exclusively come from the particular region. For products with various ingredients like jams, more than half, or 51 per cent, of all ingredients must come from the region. Verein Regionalfenster e.V., an organisation that REWE Group helped to establish, issues label licences to agricultural and food companies.
German fruit and vegetable products that bear the
In 2012, REWE defined 21 regions for its REWE Regional products. The labels identify either the German state, a traditional region like Dithmarschen and the Alte Land, or topographical areas like the Rhineland. At the very least, the Regionalfenster criteria apply to all REWE Regional items. PENNY is also committed to selling as many products as possible that bear the Regionalfenster label. The regional designation refers either to the German state or the farming or culinary region – for example, “from the Lake Constance region”.
“Regional” promotes not only the
economy, but also local
Culinary Treats from the Neighbourhood
Regional products are not the only trend. Demand for locally grown and produced food continues to rise. In 2008, REWE developed a concept designed to fulfil customers' wishes while also strengthening the local agricultural infrastructure.
“Aus Liebe zur Heimat” (For the Love of Home) has been placed on REWE store shelves and sales counters reserved for local products. In supermarkets located in the state of Hesse, customers will find local products under the name of “Landmarkt” (Country Market). Producers offer their products under their own name and with their own design. They also provide information about a product's origin. The products offered in the special selling space include fruit, vegetables, meat, sausages, fish from aquaculture, dairy products, honey, eggs, spreads, oils and alcoholic beverages. Many of the farming operations that market their products with REWE's assistance are family owned.
For the Love of Nature
“Regional” promotes not only the economy, but also local biological diversity. Working with REWE and Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V. (NABU), Michael Manner has set up nesting boxes for native birds of prey like buzzards and falcons. In addition, wide meadow strips have been laid for native flowers and grasses. “Our apple farms are monocultures,” Manner says. “To compensate for this, we plant flower strips where native small animals and useful insects can romp about. This is not only good for nature, but also for our fruit harvest.”
“Da komm' ich her!” –
Regional Fruit and Vegetables in Austria
BILLA, MERKUR and ADEG already have a large number of local and regional products in their assortment. The store brand “Da komm' ich her!” (I come from here) has made this point even more strongly and noticeably since its introduction in the autumn of 2014. Depending on the season, the “Da komm' ich her!” product range offers fresh products that have been conventionally grown by local farmers in the nearest regions of Austria, harvested with much love and then carefully packed. The “Da komm' ich her!” products also bear a label of origin that is easy to understand and recognise. The “Da komm' ich her!” brand helps to maintain and develop the regions of Austria.
Domestic Products in
International PENNY Ranges
In addition to Germany, PENNY is active in the Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. In each of these countries, PENNY operates as a national discount company that offers product ranges typically found in the country. The range's focus on domestic products plays a major role in the stores' positive growth. In the Czech Republic, for instance, every other product is produced in the country or made according to a Czech recipe. In Austria, PENNY uses the store brand “Ich bin Österreich” (I am Austria), highlighting its commitment to the region in the process. Seventy per cent of the range in Hungary consists of products made in Hungary. In Romania, the two discount formats PENNY and XXL Mega Discount attract customers with their good selection of domestic products. In the process, PENNY is working to achieve its goal of being the “fresh local-supply discounter”.