NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Shoppers at the Bristol Farms store here are pausing in the produce department to watch television.
On a 20-inch, flat-screen TV monitor, flashing images of guacamole, manufacturer advertisements for ingredients to make the avocado dip, related recipes and nutrition information catch the attention of shoppers -- and appear to be boosting sales of the featured items, officials said. In mid-October, the monitor was set up on the end of a trellis-style island merchandiser, above a display of tomatoes, avocados, packaged chopped onions, lemons, limes and fresh salsa -- all the ingredients needed for guacamole. No recipe cards were available, but the retailer planned to put up a card holder for consumers interested in getting a hard copy of the recipes featured on the TV.
There are plans to put in more monitors in other fresh departments, as well as on grocery aisle endcap displays, at this store and at other stores in the chain.
Under terms of an agreement, the retailer and Purchase Point Solutions, a San Diego-based integrator of digital advertising, share the revenue that comes from the manufacturers and other groups who pay to have their products featured on the televised segments. Officials at Bristol Farms and Purchase Point Solutions will work together on merchandising themes so that the content on the monitors can be updated with new material every 30 days or so.
The system is a major advancement from the old TV, video cassette recorders and videotapes that were used in supermarkets in the past to promote products, said Paul Castro, a partner with Purchase Point Solutions, which works with supermarket companies, big-box retailers and chain restaurants. The TV/VCR systems required more attention from store associates who had to reload the video tapes frequently. The system at Bristol Farms is designed to be easy for retailers to maintain, he said.
"The retailer only has to install [camera memory] chips," Castro said. "My company takes care of the content on the screen and deploys it. It's a brand new idea."
The screen, designed to work well in a retail setting, is twice as bright as a typical consumer's TV screen. Furthermore, the content is carefully selected to engage shoppers, Castro said.
"We're programming the content so it looks nothing like home [TV] advertising," he said. Castro's company is working with other chains to develop digital advertising programs suitable for their market.
Bristol Farms appears to be the first supermarket retailer in Southern California to use the technology, he said. Officials at the supermarket chain said they are pleased with the initial response from shoppers.
"We're seeing a boost in avocado sales," Bristol Farms' produce merchandiser, John Savidan, told SN. "We're seeing a lot of excitement."
The monitor was up and running when dozens of produce industry representatives from around the world toured the store here in fast-growing Orange County in conjunction with the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition held last month in nearby Anaheim.
Bristol Farms, with 11 upscale markets in Southern California, recently was acquired by Albertsons, Boise, Idaho.
At that time, officials at Albertsons emphasized they would continue to operate the chain under the Bristol Farms banner, with separate management operating the business independently of Albertsons' conventional food and drug store formats.