Light bulbs are going sky-high at supermarkets.
Retailers are stacking them high and building power displays of light bulbs not only to attract impulse sales, but to demonstrate that they can challenge other competitive retail formats -- club stores, home centers and mass merchandisers.
Besides the power displays, retailers are using low price points, special promotions, such as daylight savings tie-ins or buy-one-get-one-free offers to stimulate bulb sales, according to those polled by SN.
Cannata's Food World, Morgan City,
La., has been effective in fighting back against Wal-Mart and the club stores through such merchandising methods, noted Warren Guidry, nonfood buyer merchandiser.
"Promoting large displays of four-packs of soft white bulbs year-round is one of the mainstays of our lighting category. We set up bulbs anywhere in the store, ideally away from the regular lighting section," Guidry said.
The chain will arrange the power displays around soft whites at retails that match, and sometimes are lower than, prices on bulbs at other classes of trade.
"This is the only way to attract light bulb customers today," Guidry added.
The large display also tends to remind shoppers of any of their other light bulb needs, especially in specialty bulbs such as chandelier or appliance bulbs, which draw shoppers back into the regular light bulb section. In addition, the retailer has expanded its electrical supply selection with extension cords and fuses placed at eye level within the 16-foot light bulb center. "It has dramatically changed the look of the department and made it a more profitable section," said Guidry.
Daylight savings is an opportunity for Red Food Stores, Chattanooga, Tenn., to boost light bulb volume.
Mike Bryson, director of nonfood, said, "When we run a daylight savings light bulb ad, we sell more bulbs that week than at any other time. We promote bulbs just to drive our volume."
The chain promotes its 12-foot to 16-foot light bulb centers about every two to three months. However, Red Food promotes light bulbs the most when daylight savings comes to an end in the fall and at Christmas into the new year. Bryson said it's a period "when light bulbs, for whatever reason, seem to sell well."
On pricing of light bulbs, the retailer said, "Our pricing isn't that far out of line with the home centers. Although we may be more expensive on bulbs than Wal-Mart or at a home center, people like the convenience of picking up bulbs while food shopping."
Angeli's, Menominee, Mich., boosts its light bulb sales by promoting four-packs of various bulbs in in-store ad fliers and on endcap displays.
Featured light bulb prices are run for several weeks to focus shopper attention at the category, said Polly Smith, director of nonfood.
"We run four-packs of soft white 40-, 60-, 75- and 100-watt bulbs in our promotion assortments at prices that are pretty competitive with the clubs and stores like Kmart. Building the endcaps and carrying the bulbs in the fliers generates sales for the bulbs that are impulse items in a grocery store."
Haggen, Bellingham, Wash., uses specialty bulbs to promote the category and draw shopper attention toward this product segment.
In addition to offering soft whites "at an everyday low price, we have found coupons on specialty bulbs to be highly successful," said Joe Sinkula, director of general merchandise and health and beauty care.
"We also highlight our light bulbs with specialty bulbs in buy-one-get-one-free deals, which go over quite well. What we attempt to do is use our specialty bulbs in promotions to point shoppers toward that part of the category."
At the start of this year, Big Y Foods, Springfield, Mass., began featuring its store-brand bulbs to spike volume in the light bulb category.
"When we run a buy-one-get-one-free sale to promote Top Crest controlled-label bulbs, it does phenomenally well," said Jan Winn, director of HBC and general merchandise.
The chain will merchandise four-packs in 60, 75 and 100 watts on floor stands at endcaps. On its store brand, the retailer will run a buy-one-get-two-free feature. "I think there are different light bulb customers, and promoting store brands wouldn't appeal to a shopper who buys only General Electric, no matter how cheap the store brand," Winn said.
Promoting bulbs aggressively "essentially is drawing customers' attention to the department, and while they're there we're hoping they'll buy the decorative and other more profitable bulbs for their homes."
Family Thrift Center, Rapid City, S.D., promotes four-packs of light bulbs at EDLP retails and gives them high visibility with special displays.
"It's definitely a good way to promote bulbs, which are a very consumable item," said Ted Honke, manager of general merchandise.
"We'll promote four long-life bulbs in 60, 75 and 100 watts at $1.89, and also three four-packs of soft whites in 60, 75 and 100 watts at $5 and stack these up in cases and at endcaps."
The retailer usually has a light bulb display positioned off shelf in the store for the entire winter. "It's a good staple item and [the display] lets shoppers know light bulbs are there. We'll flip-flop between long life and regular soft whites in our EDLP that is advertised in ads and circulars,"said Honke.
Family Thrift also has run 75-cent coupons for soft white bulbs, and promoted them as loss leaders as a strategy to build light bulb volume.
"All of this creates extra traffic and sales by drawing customers to the better profit items in the department," said Honke.
Through constant light bulb promotions, Certified Grocers Midwest, Hodgkins, Ill., has increased sales 3% to 5%, said Jerry Willts, director of general merchandise and HBC.
"Running a buy-one-get-one-free offer or offering a two-pack with a three-way bulb tucked between is an outstanding value for shoppers," Willts said.
He described the light bulb as a highly price-sensitive item. "We promote light bulbs off the rack, as it's very sensitive today because of the mass merchandisers and home centers and all those retailers that literally stack bulbs to the ceiling and use coupons and mail-ins to create an image."
But Certified gives "shoppers a good price on light bulbs and tries to do anything that will stimulate the bulb business," Willts added.
"Taking a two-pack of 60- or 75-watt soft whites and sandwiching a three-way 50-, 100- and 150-watt in between becomes a larger value-added purchase and goes over well as an impulse sale," Willts said.