KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Ball's Hen House stores ran a blitz of specials on Alaskan seafood and gave away a deluxe-model treadmill in a rewarding tie-in to February's designation as Healthy Heart Month, officials said.
Total seafood sales at the upscale Hen Houses climbed 5% to 10% over the same period last year, and sales of the three featured Alaskan seafood products were up 53% year-to-date. What's more, customers' attention was drawn to the healthy aspects of eating seafood, which should have long-range sales effects, said Terry Hastert, seafood specialist, for the 29-unit Ball's Foods, which operates 15 Hen Houses and 14 Price Chopper stores.
"We featured Alaskan seafood in a three-week promotion, and used a lot of POP materials supplied by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. Customers were particularly excited about getting a chance to win the treadmill. It's one of the best there is, with a heart-rate monitor on it," Hastert said.
Entry in the drawing was automatic every time customers used their loyalty cards. Then, on top of that, a purchase of Alaskan seafood gave them extra chances to win.
A large color photograph of the True brand treadmill was posted in the seafood department with a sign telling customers how they could win it, and telling them the drawing would be held on the first day of Lent.
All during February, Hen House's seafood associates wore baseball caps inscribed with "Alaska Seafood & Hen House are Healthy Heart Partners."
"We also gave out literature on the healthy aspects of seafood, and we talked to customers about how important it is to eat it on a regular basis," Hastert said.
In fact, Hen House incorporated advice and some current statistics in its ads featuring Alaskan seafood. In one of its circulars, a five-inch by three-inch ad had the following blurb superimposed on a full-color photo of a salmon filet: "Eating four ounces of fish two to four times a week will significantly cut the risk of stroke in both men (43%) and women (48%)." Attribution was given to the January 2003 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In that ad, Alaskan Coho salmon filet was featured at $4.99 a pound, $4 off the regular price. The Alaska Seafood logo and a bigger logo that says "Hen House Seafood Company" headlines the ad. Over the price, the ad says, "Hen House Quality IQF Alaskan Coho Salmon Fillet."
Positioned right alongside was another five-by-three block, showing a photo of the treadmill in use. It's headlined, "February is Healthy Heart Month! Hen House & Alaska Seafood have teamed up to give you a True Treadmill!" Then this: "You are automatically entered to win a True treadmill every time you scan your Hen House rewards [customer loyalty] card. Receive bonus entries with each Alaskan seafood purchase."
Other items featured on ad in February were Alaskan halibut fillets at $10.99 a pound, $5 off the regular price; and Alaskan cod fillets at $7.99 a pound, $3 off the regular price.
A colorful display of the featured products was built three times bigger than a normal display of them would be -- about three-and-a-half feet by three feet, on an ice table, Hastert said. He pointed out that the majority of Hen House seafood displays are on ice tables.
"You can be a little more creative with them than with trays or pans. We can make a collage of different products."
He said he was particularly happy with February's significant bump in sales, and attributed it -- in addition to the aggressive retail pricing of the featured items -- to consumers' growing health-consciousness and to their loosening up their purse strings.
"I think people, here in the Midwest anyway, are opening up a little with their eating budgets," Hastert said.