Publix, a privately-held company operating stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee, was founded by George W. Jenkins in 1930 in Winter Haven, Florida. It has grown into a Fortune 500 company with more than 1,000 stores and is one of the fastest growing employee-owned companies in the United States. Publix has 1,033 supermarkets, more than 146,000 employees, and 2009 retail sales of $24.3 billion. The company’s tagline is “Where Shopping is a Pleasure.”

Positive Themes

“Let them eat Publix cake!” That’s not exactly what Marie Antoinette said, but had she lived in one of the five states with Publix markets, she might have. Consumers love their cakes.

  • I LOVE PUBLIX CAKE!!!!!!!!!!! I grew up in Florida and moved to Texas and can’t have it anymore. Publix did my baby shower cake, and I ate the other half of the whole sheet cake the following week. (source)
  • Publix does make GREAT cakes!! They did a great job on DS’s last year when we were at our family reunion in FL. Here’s DS’s this year. (source)
  • I hate shopping without looking for coupons now. Like I said, last night I had $31.75 in coupons. Publix is great because they accept all competitor coupons and they stack coupons. One example of my recent purchases is a large can of Enfamil formula. It cost $25.95 at Publix before coupons. (source)

BOGO means Buy One Get One Free, and people love that Publix deal—especially those with large families, for whom it’s a life-saver.

  • If it doesn’t though, and we have all this food stored, think about the money we’re saving in the process since I’m coupon obsessed now… Oh back to the chocolate chip news… Publix BOGO deals ROCK! Today I spent . $16.12, savings: $33.81. (source)
  • I remember my parents made almost no money, but the funny thing is, my hubby and I make decent money, and we are still barely scraping by! I am an avid couponer! I love publix because they have buy one get one free sales and then I can use coupons on top of that sometimes making lots of things free. My entire meal plan for the week is based upon the buy one get one free sale at publix this week. Or at Winn-Dixie when they have a good sale on meats. (source)

Negative Themes

Everyone cares about price, and a fair number of consumers think Publix is expensive compared to competitors—it’s the number one negative sentiment.

  • I purchase almost all my frozen veggies in GV; birdseye and Green Giant have just gotten too expensive and the bags are smaller Quote: Originally Posted by DanBev We use both,Publix for BOGO and Walmart for price,GV products.Last night ate GV extra-raisins raisin bran,excellent.Publix is pricey! I agree. I only shop at Publix for BOGO and often I’ll fins that I’m still paying the same price I would have paid at Wal-mart. (source)
  • Publix is so expensive! 40$ for a cake. Good thing it ain’t my money :-). (source)

Limited selection is also a recurring theme. Consumers typically name specific products they can’t find at Publix, such as mint chocolate Hershey bars, cakes with custom logos, or favorite energy drinks.

  • Publix sucks. Very backward supermarket chain, overpriced and lacking variety of fresh produce. Publix = endless aisles of processed crap. (source)

A quarter of negative comments related to the “nasty Publix brand”—the company’s branded version of various products, including diapers, witch hazel and crackers.

  • The Publix brand of WH is OK – it does the job. However, it does sting me a bit because of its alcohol content – which is why I prefer Thayers Rose Petal or Lavender WH. (source)
  • off-brands do NOT always taste as good as the name brands! These Publix crackers are NOT as good as Saltines! (source)

Insights

Competing on price can be a race to the bottom in terms of profitability, but Publix does need to keep prices competitive with chains whose stores are in the same markets. The store has developed private-label alternatives for popular products, which should offer better margins. That’s a smart move, but the quality of all the Publix-brand goods should be equal to or better than that of name brands or the Publix brand as a whole could get a bad reputation.

The quality of the company’s take-out generated the most positive comments, so that’s an area of their business they might promote more. Take-out products such as cake and subs are made in-house, and Publix can charge for the service of making these ready-to-eat items. Those better margins can make expenditures on promotion worthwhile.

Accepting competitors’ coupons and the BOGO deals are apparently very successful at bringing customers into their stores. Increasing publicity around those attractive promotion policies could result in even more customer traffic.

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