Progressive Grocer

DEC 2016

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December 2016 | | 67 Fresh Food Produce Cross-promotional Power Build bigger baskets with produce pairings. By Jennifer Strailey C ategories within fresh produce, from avocados to tomatoes to onions, can be strong sellers own their own, but put them together in a colorful display complete with tempting, easy-to-prepare reci- pes, and sales will surge. "Cross-merchandising al- ways has been a great tool, but I think its importance has in- creased," affirms Tom Wheeler, director of produce operations for Mollie Stone's Markets, a family and locally owned grocer with nine stores in the San Francisco Bay Area. "It's really about build- ing an idea in the consumer's mind of how they might use the product," he adds, "and it's critical to reaching the younger-generation consumer. Millennials are super-experimental, but they didn't have home economics [in school] like we did." Some of Mollie Stone's most successful cross- promotions to date were achieved with the support of the California Avocado Commission (CAC), based in Irvine. "We've worked with the CAC for quite a few years, and it's been a huge success for us," notes Wheeler, who points to Super Bowl-themed Califor- nia avocado promotions, a Hatch chiles-and-avocado cross-promotion, and another for Cinco de Mayo. "Cinco de Mayo was probably the biggest success we've had with a cross-promotion," he says. "We saw a massive increase in sales year over year." e promotion featured California avocados, Mollie Stone's in-house guacamole, its private label tortilla chips, and more — all conveniently merchandised together for customers to grab and go. "Cross-merchandising definitely increases sales," Wheeler continues. "You can eat an avocado by itself, but it goes a lot better with other things. It's a nucleus for building a bigger basket." Mollie Stone's supports its promotions with in-store signage and through social media and recipes on its website. Whether it's a simple cheese-and-apples pairing or a caprese salad promotion with mozzarella, basil, heirloom tomatoes and Mollie Stone's private label olive oil, the grocer sees value in frequent cross-pro- motions — so much so that Mollie Stone's recently hired a marketing person to help develop its cross- merchandising plans throughout the year. Advancing Avocados In the 18 years that VP of Marketing Jan DeLyser has been with the CAC, the commission has put together hundreds of successful cross-promotions. While each had its merits, DeLyser says there are two key elements that are consistent throughout the cro SS purpo S e S Mollie Stone's Markets wows with c alifornia avocados and Hatch chiles.

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