M&M Meat Shops is turning up the heat in Canada’s food wars by rebranding itself M&M Food Market, adopting a new name and logo that reflects the evolution of the retailer.
The Kitchener, Ontario-based retailer, best-known as Canada’s largest retail chain of specialty frozen foods with locations coast to coast, sells a wide variety of frozen meat products and is fondly known as M&M Meats.
Over the last three decades, however, it has expanded its menu by more than 100 new products beyond meat, including fruits, vegetables, appetizers and desserts, in an effort to position itself as a food source for every meal of the day and every day of the week.
“Introducing our new name: M&M Food Market. Why did we change our name? Quite simply, the new name better reflects what customers told us they want and what we have to offer. We have amazing products across a range of categories, including Sides, Single Serves, Fruits & Vegetables, Sauces & Seasonings, Prepared Meals, Appetizers and Desserts – not just meat. And this is just the beginning – there’s more to come! Tell us what you think…”
Andy O’Brien, the company’s CEO, says while the majority of Canadians prefer to eat most of their meals at home, its research found M&M wasn’t top of mind when it came to everyday foods. In fact, even though it has traditionally been linked to a wide variety of hamburgers, beef only makes up about 20 per cent of its total sales.
“Our customers told us to evolve our name. We’re not just about meats,” O’Brien says. “This reinvention gives M&M Food Market an opportunity to differentiate ourselves through food quality, variety and a convenient customer experience to help Canadians solve these mealtime challenges.”
The new menu now includes small sweet peas, green bans, broccoli, edamame, chopped spinach, sushi, grilled chicken burgers, salmon burgers and cakes and pies. No longer making the cut are “named” burgers that consumers didn’t understand, including “Bear Paw” and “Butcher’s Grind.”
As with the old name and logo, the word mark is also available in a bilingual version, adding the French translation of its name for its stores in Quebec. The rebranding because public recently with the new name appearing in millions of flyers distributed across the country, on a revamped website and on social media. The evolution will continue throughout the spring and summer with the addition of new products and a new marketing campaign.
“The focus on Helping You Make Real Food for Real Life means helping customers put food on the table that they can feel good about,” O’Brien stated. “This includes the types of meals offered and the ingredients within them; food that helps consumers make mealtime happen, with inspiring ideas and simpler preparation and options for everyone at the table, for all occasions.”
The M&M refresh comes during a time when competition for food has never been more fierce north of the 49th parallel. Traditional grocers, such as Canada Safeway, Sobeys and Real Canadian Superstore, are upping their games as new players, including Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart, are establishing themselves in the fray. The only good news, from a competition point of view, was the implosion of Target Canada a year ago, which removed 133 stores that also sold food from the market.
M&M plans to spend $40 million to overhaul the majority of its 365 stores from coast to coast, including new signage both inside and out. The first thing customers will notice when walking in the door is that the old-style counters have been removed so they can access products behind the glass doors themselves. The employees have also been rebranded from “product consultants” to “meal advisors.”
“They’ll help you choose what kind of meals depending on your demographic, household composition and what you’re family likes to eat. That part of the service you can’t get somewhere else. You can shop in the store for 15 or 20 minutes and walk out with all of your food for the week,” O’Brien says.
The company has aggressive growth plans in Canada’s three biggest cities — Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal — where it hopes to open between 150 and 200 new stores in the next few years.
In fact, as part of the rebranding, all elements of the brand experience will be changing, including not only new signage, over 100 new and improved products and new packaging featuring appetizing food shots and product stories. As noted in its press release, “The newly redesigned stores are organized by category to help simplify the shopping experience and have a redefined in-store experience featuring expert meal advisors, a more consumer-centric category assortment and a new overall store concept that is rolling out across the country.”
One thing that won’t change is M&M’s penchant for freezing its foods. O’Brien says its vegetables are frozen at the source of harvesting, which preserves the nutrient value. “Fresh” vegetables lose much of that during transportation.
O’Brien was brought in to head up M&M 18 months ago after it was bought by a private equity company. The rebranding efforts are a result of market research during that period.
“We needed to better understand our consumers’ meals, their needs and how to make M&M a part of their every day lives,” he says.