The Case of Smith’s Grocery Stores: A Field Research Project

Assignment Overview:

This assignment will help students learn about how grocery stores and consumer product lines compete with one other in a retail environment. Through this assignment, students will visit a local grocery store to conduct primary research through observations and analysis.

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Using the guidelines below, teams can decide how to present the information in a manner that is professional, clear, credible, logical and informative. Please be sure to maintain a consistent team “voice” throughout the project submission.  Special emphasis will be placed on clarity, professionalism and format, especially the proper labeling, description and analysis of the various brand strategies. Grammatical, format and spelling errors will result in grade penalties. Fonts should be 12-point Arial and text should be single-space, flush left.



Assignment Background

Case Background:

He wants to better understand the strategies, strengths and weaknesses of some existing grocery stores in the area and has asked your team to assist with this assessment by conducting some research and writing a report.


Specifically, he would like each student on a team to visit a local grocery store and then present examples and their related analysis of an assigned product strategy in a consolidated team report that will help him better understand the nature and competitiveness of the local retail grocery scene


Note: Before embarking on the store visits, students will need to research and learn about the retail concepts listed below. We will only spend a few minutes on these in class, so this should be considered to be a self-study exercise.


The Assignment’s Organization


Please organize your information as follows.


Part II: Research Data, Observations and Analysis

Please collect and present the following information underneath each of the topics below.


  1. Brand and Product Line Strategies

For each of the six brand and product line strategies shown below:

  1. Thoroughly define the strategy written by the student. Cutting and pasting from a secondary source will result in zero credit on this assignment for all team members
  2. Find, photograph and clearly present an example of each strategy as noted. Please clearly label the photographs (or lose .10 points for each missing label) with a name and brief description.
  3. Explain the photo-example in a manner that is supported by the definition of the strategy. As always, these definitions must be in the words of the student. Cutting and pasting will result in zero credit.
  4. Provide your opinion: Are the strategy and example you observed effective? Why or why not?


Please make these explanations clearly enough for a reader who knows nothing about product and brand strategies to understand. See the URLs linked to the terms below in order to find some good definitions. But, students can find their own sources


In any case, remember that you must state these terms and definitions in your own words. No cutting and pasting is allowed.  If you use the URLs/sites below, then no APA citations are necessary. Simply paste the same URL along with the analysis. If use other websites to help with your definitions, then you must cite Them


Brand and Product Line Strategies for Analysis

Student 1: Product Line Width: (URL 1  URL 2)

Student 2: Product Line Length: (URL 1  URL 2)

Student 3: Product Line Depth: (URL 1  URL 2)

Student 4: Co-branding: Co-Branding

Student 5: Brand Extensions: Brand Extensions

Student 6: Private Label Brands (*):  Private Label


Note: The URLs should work. If not, then students are responsible for finding and citing other sources of information.


Organization of Answers

When presenting the above information, please organize it in this way. Each concept must be accompanied by two very different examples e.g. a Kellogg’s and a Mrs. Field’s example, rather than two examples of Kellogg’s cereal.


  • Name of Strategy:
  • Name of Student:
  • Name of Store Visited (e.g. Trader Joes Redmond)
  • Definition of Strategy: (Minimum 30 words)
  • Photo of Example 1: (labeled with 5-8 words)
  • Analysis Example 1: (minimum 50 words)
  • Photo of Example 2: (labeled with 5-8 words)
  • Analysis Example 2: (minimum 50 words)
  • Student Opinion: (minimum 80 words)


(*) A note on the Private Label example: There needs to be only one example of a Private Label strategy from a store other than Trader Joes. But, in this case, you will need to find and compare the prices and shelf placement of two private label products (e.g. Safeway Select Peas) within that store with the prices and shelf placement of two similar but branded label products (e.g. Libby’s Peas). Present this information in a clear table with some photos, analysis and observations about the competitiveness of private label brands.  Please observe and analyze such areas as pricing, shelf placement, attractiveness of packaging and the like. This is a major section of this report, so the analysis should be clear and thorough: Minimum of 120 words.


  1. Private Label Brands: Amazon

This section relates to private label brands on Here, a student on the team will find and compare the placement and pricing of an Amazon Basics product with two similar but competing products such as batteries (but please don’t use that example). Present this information in a clear table with some clearly labeled screenshots, analysis and observations about the competitiveness of Amazon’s private label brands.  Please analyze such areas as pricing, web placement and the like. This is a major section of this report, so the analysis should be clear and thorough: Minimum of 120 words.


  1. Innovative Packaging

What is the most effective packaging that your team came across in the store? Please provide a photo and describe its innovation and appeal.


  1. Shelf Dominance: Your team will notice that certain brands dominate large areas of a retailer’s shelf space. In the opinion of your team, what is the most dominant brand among the stores that you visited? Please support this with one clearly labeled photo of the shelf space that your team observed. In your analysis, please provide your observations about this brand in how it is placed, extended, expanded and priced relative to store brands. Minimum of 120 words.


(*) A Note on Taking Photos:  Some stores have policies about taking photos for commercial purposes. Based on past experience with these reports, most students were able to accomplish this by breaking up into individuals (rather than as a noisy group of three students with backpacks), being discreet, and being polite.


If a team has a problem, or anticipates a problem, please contact the instructor. He has a letter template that requests the permission of the store manager. If a team wants to ask for permission ahead of their store visit, that is fine. In this case, however, teams might have to visit multiple stores until they find a cooperative manager. If a team anticipates a problem or cannot get permission from a store (if they need to ask), then please tell the instructor. He has a “Plan B” whereby the assignment might be completed without a store visit. The extra time saved will be spent on a longer assignment, however.

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