Shifting an historic NYC supermarket chain to reclaim category leadership as the lifestyle grocer for city shoppers

2 min read

D’Agostino Supermarkets is a 100-year-old family-owned Italian grocer based in New York City. At its peak in the 1990s, the grocer had 26 locations and $200 million p.a in sales. D’Agostino had a rich history which was imbued with stories of affordable Italian cuisine for New Yorkers. However, that story was becoming unseen to many customers since D’Agostino lacked a salient brand identity and failed to see a dramatic shift on the competitive landscape and in demographics too. Ideon reimagined and brought new relevance to D’Agostino’s aging service focused brand with a fresh “Why” center approach focused on meaningful customer experience.

Ideon crafted D’Agostino a visionary new brand positioning centered around the core idea of “My City in A Store”. Through leveraging D’Agostino’s heritage as an Italian food source in NYC, the new brand connects local New Yorkers with local Italian produce and international products of the highest quality. A new activation plan would have consolidated D’Agostino to only 3 Manhattan lifestyle supermarkets focused on being convenient for, being best in class, and getting close to hip, foodie New Yorkers.

Ideon’s deep market research revealed an increasing interest from hip-new Yorkers for a fresh, lifestyle supermarket. These empirical findings revealed the opportunity for D’Agostino to re-emerge in the grocery space and address the needs of this new generation of foodies.

The new brand story leveraged hidden jewels, such as convenient locations, long opening hours and deliveries, long before competitors followed suit. By leaning into these strong points, D’Agostino could gain fresh life and clarity of purpose in its quest to firmly position itself as NYC’s go-to Italian grocer, before Eataly’s arrival.

The new employee roadmap highlighted new directives for D’Agostino to engage 21st century shoppers with experiential customer service. We also crafted a brand bible to train the workforce on the importance of a “Why” brand and how to live it.

In outlining the language and approach for D’Agostino employees to engage with customers, Ideon’s specific methods and clear criteria for all points of engagements worked to shift the internal culture and employee in-store behaviors, influencing inventory sourcing, product selection, displays and more.

Ideon’s bold thinking transformed all D’Agostino’s communication touchpoints, including job postings; marketing and social media communications; community partnerships and communications; in-store and local advertising campaigns; and more. Under Ideon’s direction, D’Agostino partnered with local non-profit City Harvest, further embedding a community integrated “Why” strategy into the grocer’s brand.

While D’Agostino never fully activated the new brand strategy and platform due to internal pressures, Ideon is honored to have delivered a bold reimagination and merchandizing plan to map a new trajectory for the business, all while preserving its heritage. Had D’Agostino implemented this plan, it would stand higher than Eataly as NYC’s trusted fresh Italian grocer and would not have led to a controlling acquisition in 2019 by Red Apple Group, a former competitor.

Ideon is honored to have crafted a transformational rebrand for this venerable, century old grocer.

Nicholas D’Agostino III is a fan, explaining "Because of Ideon we are looking at our business in a whole new way, to more clearly demonstrate our differentiation. With the help of Ideon we are positioning D'Agostino Supermarkets for the future and getting even closer to our customers."