Progressive Grocer Product

Fall 2014

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cover feature Fall 2014 / Progressive Grocer Products Showcase 9 "What we want to know is that the supplier has a plan in place," Brous says. "This can include couponing, advertisements, commercials, or other times they may want to do coop or market inside the store. Our intent is that we understand that they have a plan, and they have the dollars in place to gain customer awareness." Hirzel's consumer marketing for Truly Tomatoes has been broad, and it has included in-store couponing, in-store demos, and free- standing inserts (FSIs). However, Hirzel says the most valuable marketing has been through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and foodie blogs. The company sent the new products to a number infuential food bloggers, many of whom tried them and recommended them to their followers. Among their successes with food bloggers were Hungry Girl: "Bet these would be great for crock-pot creations;" and Having Fun Saving: "I love that it was fresh right out of the carton." Because the innovativeness of the carton is so important to Truly Tomatoes' sales, and because the research showed that many potential clients don't typically shop in the canned tomato shelf, paying to have the product slotted in some high- visibility areas has been another important part of the marketing campaign. "We've told some retailers we'll invest in placing this product somewhere else in the store, and that's really helped," Hirzel says. "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." Speedy Results Needed One important aspect of marketing that is often difcult for the supplier to control is timing. Jetta notes that the window of time to drive consumers to stores is small – if the marketing campaign doesn't move product of the shelves within a few weeks, many stores start thinking about pulling. "It's breathtaking how quickly that happens," Jetta says. "Normally they'll give a manufacturer a heads-up that they're considering pulling the product, and the manufacturer says, 'Whoa, it's only been on the shelf three weeks.' But the retailer says, 'Unless you tell me you're investing something in the next week or so, just saying "give it a chance" isn't going to cut.'" Jetta explains that data-savvy retailers have fgured out that a new product typically reaches its equilibrium sales level in a matter of weeks. "So if you haven't invested early there's nothing you can do to get it up. That's a lot of the reason so many products fail." Exacerbating the problem is the fact that new products rarely appear in all stores at exactly the same time, especially products from small retailers. For example, the Truly Tomatoes products started arriving on some store shelves in August 2013, but other retailers didn't provide shelf space until months later. "It has been hard to line up the consumer marketing with placement," Hirzel says. "Retailers have diferent schedules for planograms and shelf sets, and it doesn't always match with our intended promotional and marketing plans." Nevertheless, Hirzel reports that the initial placement locations are still carrying the line, so retailers are not pushing the cartons aside for new products yet. In the End, Sales Tell the Story Sales of Truly Tomatoes products have been close to expectations, Hirzel says, and he's optimistic about the coming year. Because autumn and winter are big sales times for tomato products, he believes the fall/winter of 2014/15 will be more telling than last fall/ winter, since many stores were just getting the products then. And he's working to show retailers that the cartons are drawing in customers who maybe never bought preserved tomatoes in cans, as the survey data from SIG Combibloc had predicted. "Some of the data we see on Nielsen is that carton sales have gone up but not eroded any of the can quantities." And that's the kind of data retailers like to see. While not commenting specifcally about the Truly Tomatoes situation, Publix's Brous notes that the retailer pays close attention to sales data when deciding what stays on the shelves. "Overall we have great working relationships with our CPG manufacturers, and we want them to be successful," she says. "But at the end of the day we want the customers to be happy." PGPS "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?'" D i m i t r y E r e z , B o s t o n R e t a i l P a r t n e r s

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