Progressive Grocer Product

Fall 2014

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cover feature 8 Progressive Grocer Products Showcase / Fall 2014 development that does involve a lot of retailer collaboration is the creation of private label products. Because stores want to diferentiate themselves, they seek private label partners who can create something special for their shelves. Packaging Design Hirzel's next step was naming the line and creating the label. "We asked ourselves, 'What are we trying to communicate to the customer?'" Hirzel says. The tomatoes Hirzel Canning uses start in their own greenhouses. The seedlings are transplanted in 32 family farms in Northwest Ohio, half of which are less than 10 miles from the factory. This means the tomatoes ripen on the vines and have a short trip from feld to factory. That was the message Hirzel wanted to communicate on the new cartons. "We created the Truly Tomatoes brand, which is a diferent product line coming from the same source," Hirzel says. "We wanted to show that feld-to-carton story, a nice image on the carton showing that you as the consumer can feel confdent that the product is controlled throughout the process from our family farms to the fnished package." Hirzel hired Interact Packaging, a grocery product-packaging design frm headquartered in Boulder, Colo. Interact had redesigned the Dei Fratelli packaging in the late 2000s. Hirzel met with the creative staf in Interact's Toledo, Ohio, ofce and communicated the concept. A few months later, the labels were born. From Factory to Store The biggest hurdle for a new product is making it from the factory to the store shelves. "There are always pitches coming through and new vendors looking for business," Publix's Brous says. "It's continuous." Shelf space in grocery stores is fnite. When a new product comes in, an existing product has to leave. Says Erez: "Retailers look at it from the perspective of, 'If I'm going to give up X amount of inches on my shelf, does the new product give me a broader selection in that category? Is it a better priced product? Is it unique?" But the requirements don't end there. "We always tell our suppliers the same information," Brous says. "In order for us to consider a new product, they have to be able to service all of our stores, the quality of the product has to be superior, and they have to have a marketing plan that will allow that product to sell." Hirzel Canning Co. had its marketing material ready for presentations to retailers by early spring 2013. One aspect of the presentation was research that Hirzel had received from SIG Combibloc about the market value of the paperboard cartons. Focus groups had identifed the cartons, which were perceived as sustainable, as something that would tip a sale in their favor. "There was also a signifcant amount of consumers in the study that admitted to not even shopping in the canned tomato category," Hirzel says. This kind of consumer survey data can be efective, Jetta says. "If you're willing to spend $5,000 to $10,000 on a survey that asks 1,000 people, 'Based on this product and price, would you be willing to buy?' you have a statistically valid survey," Jetta says. "That gets to the whole qualitative aspect of buying. You've taken the subjectivity out of the decision." Hirzel's sales team also presented the Nielsen data showing the weak canned tomato products market, in contrast to data showing that sales of products in cartons in general were growing 11 percent per year. Success came quickly. "We saw that there is a willingness to discuss that this product category needs something new and innovative, and they liked our concept," Hirzel says. "We were pleasantly surprised how immediately the discussion had depth to it. There defnitely was excitement out there." Many major retailers slotted the Truly Tomatoes products into the planograms for August and September 2013. Success also came from a diferent area – specialty and health food stores. These retailers were not interested in another canned tomato product, but they liked the carton. "It really opened doors on the specialty side," Hirzel says. Next Step: Marketing Getting the product on retailer planograms is essential, of course, but persuading shoppers to buy the product is the next hurdle. In fact, retailers do not stock new products from vendors who cannot demonstrate a willingness to market the products. 'The stores that have allowed for wing displays or even have dedicated a space for carton-only shelf-stable items continue to show the greatest results.' S t e v e H i r z e l , H i r z e l C a n n i n g C o m p a n y

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