Ranked high on the holiday selling spectrum, Mother's Day took center stage at grocery chains, with some retailers using greeting cards, cameras and bath-and-body to promote the occasion.
Chains highlighted their greeting-card sections through discount coupons. They gave away free prepaid phone cards and booklets of stamps with card purchases, and promoted a sweepstakes for free maid service for a year.
Food retailers used the Mother's Day holiday, rated as the third largest card-sending period of the year, after Christmas and Valentines', to focus quite a bit of customer attention on the greeting-card area.
Mother's Day is also America's second largest holiday for gift giving, and the busiest day of the year for calling long distance, said Sara Eames, marketing coordinator at American Greetings, Cleveland.
"Around 178 million Mother's Day cards were sent last year, compared with 2.5 billion Christmas cards and 890 million Valentine's cards," said Eames.
The 36-unit Kentucky Kroger Marketing Area used Mother's Day as a springboard for a sweepstakes to win a year of free maid service. The promotion was announced to customers in a mailing to lure them to stores from May 1 to May 11 to register.
Kroger targeted 3,000 residents living within a few miles of each store to announce the KMA's redesigned American Greetings card departments. The mailings contained a 50-cent coupon good toward one "Forget Me Not" card.
Ad copy promoting the sweepstakes invited Kroger customers to "Clean up in Krogers' new card shop." And while Kroger always has "great deals, now you can really clean up," the ad copy read.
The chain also offered in-store coupons worth $1 toward a three-card purchase.
Mother's Day nonfood sales were good at Ukrop's Super Markets, Richmond, according to Harvey Sutton, director of general merchandise and health and beauty care.
In addition to featuring panty hose and film, Ukrop's ran an in-and-out promotion of Kodak Advantix model-2000 cameras at $50 as a Mother's Day gift idea. Displays of cameras were set up at checkstands and the customer-service counter.
Ukrop's policy of not accepting credit cards didn't deter customers from that price-point level. "We're satisfied selling on average five cameras per store, since customers pay by cash," said Sutton. He added that any remaining cameras would be offered at Father's Day.
Ukrop's highlighted its American Greetings card department with a booklet of 10 free stamps with any four-card purchase in its American Greetings card center.
The stamp promotion was kicked off April 28, and runs through June 28, to stimulate Mother's Day, Father's Day and graduation card sales. Ukrop's customer newsletter played up the free stamp program in a headline that stated: "Join in the greeting-card stampede."
Point-of-purchase signs heralded the stamp offer, which the chain expects will create a large sales jolt to its greeting cards.
Small gift packs of bath-and-body products sparked incremental shelf turns for Mother's Day week at Gerland's Food Fair, Houston. Gift sets of bath soaps and bath beads were cross merchandised on display racks in the greeting-card department, where Mother's Day signs were posted.
"Small wicker baskets of fragrant bath soaps and wooden bowls filled with sachet were priced at $3.99 and $4.99. They were good at catching some impulse sales," said Kim Botkin, Gerland's nonfood director.
A promotion at Giant Food, Landover, Md., that ended on Mother's Day (May 11) offered shoppers a free "Better Homes and Gardens" Spring Booklet of gardening tips and a $1 discount with the purchase of three "Expressions From Hallmark" cards.
"These promotions are a timely incentive that help drive customers to the greeting-card department and increase their card purchases by offering additional value," said Steve Hawn, Hallmark Cards marketing vice president for supermarkets, Kansas City, Mo.
The Columbus, Ohio, Kroger Marketing Area piqued interest in its Gibson Greetings card department by offering a free five-minute prepaid telephone card with the purchase of any three greeting cards.
Safeway's Eastern Division in Lanham, Md., promoted Mother's Day cards with $1 coupons in weekly fliers. In past Mother's Day events the division had between 45,000 and 55,000 of these coupons redeemed, according to a trade source.