Dollar General’s healthy brand repositioning—what can PR learn?

by | Dec 18, 2018 | Analysis, Public Relations


As its name suggests, the Dollar General brand is known for low prices, mainly on home goods and groceries. As is often the case, so-called “junk” foods—snack items that are higher in fat, sugar, and calories, as well as prepackaged items with extra salt and other preservatives—tend to be less expensive than fresher, healthier foods.

Patrons at Dollar General have become accustomed to finding these kinds of grocery items readily available at relatively inexpensive prices. Recently, though, Dollar General has expanded, adding items that are meant to encourage patrons to “eat healthier.” In addition to grocery aisles of soda, salty snacks and candy, Dollar General says it will soon be stocking more than 100 different “healthier” items, including high-protein items such as yogurt, nuts, energy bars, veggie snacks, and even coconut water.

Addressing the challenge

In addition to these specific items, Dollar General is also promoting brands including Nature Valley, Kashi, Back to Nature, and Dollar General’s private label “Good & Smart” brand. In a statement announcing the change, Dollar General said the new items were being added at the request of their customers, and that, in pilot stores, the program is doing well, even better than expected, actually.

Dollar General Chief Merchandising Officer Jason Reiser told the media that healthier foods seemed out of reach for some of their customers, so the company took the initiative to find a way to bring these items into their stores and keep them priced reasonably. This, the company said, was also an effort to keep up with consumer trends toward healthier eating.

“Our core customer is always a little bit behind the curve… Better-for-you is starting to emerge as a trend.” Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos said.

The company is clearly hoping that taking this initiative will bring more business into stores and grab attention for the brand. It’s an interesting move. Some of the “healthier” brands are more often connected with chains like Whole Foods or organic specialty markets, not low-cost grocers.

And that’s not the only change the company is making

In recent years, the concept of a “food desert” has become more widespread in popular media. These are places where fresher, healthier food is more limited in availability. Soon, though, hundreds of Dollar General stores will be equipped with coolers and refrigerator sections that allow them to stock and sell fresher food items, including meat and produce.

By rolling this out behind a “healthier eating” message, hitting a current and very popular trend in the market, Dollar General is gaining a lot of media and consumer attention.

Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian founded 5WPR, a leading PR agency..