MONTVALE, N.J. -- A&P here has launched a line of Master Choice private-label cold cuts with a flourish that includes banners, window signs, full-page ads and special prices.
The official unveiling came on January 24, just a week before Super Bowl Sunday, which has increasingly become a big sales day for supermarket delis.
A full-page ad on the back page of the chain's weekly circular proclaims, "A&P is proud to introduce Master Choice cold cuts." It lists 12 varieties at a special price to A&P frequent shoppers.
The prices range, with the A&P frequent-shopper bonus card, from $5.99 a pound for turkey breast to $1.99 for liverwurst. "The price is cut $2 a pound with the bonus card. It's across the board for all varieties. We've found that [sales strategy] more effective in the past than offering coupons," said Andy Carrano, vice president of marketing and corporate affairs for A&P.
"It also helps us in the deli because you don't have to change the scales. The discount comes off at the register," Carrano added. He pointed out, however, that it's important to put up point-of-sale signs at the service case to inform the customer what the discount on each item will be.
Indeed, the stores SN visited had bright yellow cards on top of the deli service counter that showed what the savings for each item would be.
The special prices were held only for the first week after the introduction. Asked how sales of the products are, Carrano said it was too early to comment.
The everyday prices of the Master Choice cold cuts are competitive with other branded premium lines, Carrano said.
The entire top half of A&P's full-page ad is occupied by the Master Choice logo, inch-high letters that say, "cold cuts" and a close-up view of a platter loaded up with a variety of sliced cold cuts.
Below the photo, the 12 varieties are listed with their special prices. They are: Virginia ham, corned beef, beef bologna, meat bologna, spiced ham, pear-shaped ham, liverwurst with natural casing, liverwurst with artificial casing, pastrami, turkey breast, Genoa salami and olive loaf.
A line at the bottom of the ad says, "Visit our A&P deli counter to sample our Master Choice cold cuts, and enter to win a pair of tickets to Broadway's hottest show!" Another line, above the list of varieties, says, "Satisfaction guaranteed or double your money back."
Neither of the above is unusual for A&P, Carrano said. "We always try in different ways to get customers to sample our deli products, and we guarantee all our products," he said.
In-store hoopla surrounding the introduction of the Master Choice line included the posting of two huge window signs, a colorful, 2-foot by 8-foot vinyl banner in the service deli department, and a stanchion sign just inside the store's entrance.
In addition to announcing the cold-cut line's introduction, the signs also point out that the products contain "all natural ingredients, no artificial flavors, no filler or extenders."
Deli associates wore buttons and hats touting the cold cuts as well. In the stores SN visited, the associates also seemed to be well primed to talk about the cold cuts.
At a Union, N.J., unit of A&P, a deli clerk told SN that "you can't buy a better liverwurst than [the Master Choice brand]. It's the same quality as Thumann's or Schickhaus. All our meats are very good."
The cold-cut line, which joins a huge collection of Master Choice private-label items ranging from dry grocery products to marinated meats, received its send-off in A&P banner stores in the New York metropolitan area and in A&P's Super Fresh banner stores in the Philadelphia metro area.
Carrano said he could not comment at this time on what stores or what area would be next to get the Master Choice cold cuts.