Longo’s, Grocery Store

Unifying Proposition: “Treating you like family.”

This regional grocery chain offered better service than its larger competitors, but struggled to communicate their USP. Learning to articulate “the Longo’s difference” was key.

The business case:

Longo’s is a very successful regional supermarket chain. It is smaller in geographic reach than its larger competitors but its stores are as big and its product selection as vast as Loblaw’s, Metro and Sobeys. There is something different about shopping at Longo’s but the company could not explain what that difference is. It wanted to be able to articulate the “Longo’s difference” so it could embed it into the culture by design rather than by osmosis.


The Blueprint:

Longo’s is still owned and operated by the Longo family. Anthony Longo, the CEO, told us about how they made the decision to remove trashy magazines (e.g. The National Inquirer) from their checkout aisles, the reasoning being that they wouldn’t want their own children looking at the sensationalized headlines and pictures on the covers of these magazines, so they don’t want their customers’ children looking at them either. They also eliminated deep-fried foods from their buffet counters because they didn’t want to expose their customers to the health risks of fried foods. We all realized that Longo’s as a company was treating its customers as if they were members of the family. So Longo’s Unifying PropositionTM became “Treating you like family”.

“It is so easy to slip into business speak, but our Unifying PropositionTM always regrounds us in what matters to our customers and employees.”

Anthony Longo, CEO, Longo’s

The business results:

In the company’s desire to embed “the Longo’s way” into the culture by design, it started by redesigning its training program for employees at all levels of the organization to be focused on “Treating You Like Family”. For instance, when somebody asks an employee on the floor of any large retail organization where to find something, the employee will usually tell them what aisle it is in or will point to its location. But what would you do if it was your mother asking you where a product is? You would walk her right to where the product is to make sure that she got to the right place and that the product is in stock. This is what Longo’s trains all of its employees to do. It also trains managers how to fix customer service issues with employees by using “Treating You Like Family” as the training tool.

It also wanted all of its employees to feel like they were being “treated like family.” It had already implemented a generous RSP program in which it would match any funds employees put into their own RSP. In spite of the generosity of the program — it’s “no-brainer” quality — only 37% of employees actually participated in the program. Although it was against its financial interest to do so, Longo’s invested in a cross-country awareness program to make sure all employees knew the benefits of the contribution matching RSP program.


The takeaway:

The Blueprint makes it easier to make business decisions large and small because the Unifying PropositionTM guides every decision you make and every action you take.

Employees work harder and make a bigger contribution to the company when they have a sense of purpose (Treating You Like Family).