MODESTO, Calif. (FNS) -- Save Mart Supermarkets here is scoring produce sales successes by following a formula for planning promotions from start to finish, according to Steve Junqueiro, director produce/floral, Modesto, Calif.
te the marketplace," Junqueiro said. Whatever a chain's goal for produce promotions, the produce decision-makers have to make sure there is one, and that it is clearly stated and understood.
"Make the determination if the promotion will drive sales, drive the category or drive image," Junqeiro said, "if the promotion is being used to spotlight a loss leader, a traffic builder; or to defend yourself against an aggressor in the marketplace."
Junqueiro offered examples of how exhaustive planning has sharpened his company's performance in specific categories and boosted overall sales.
He also said that for Save Mart, suppliers' participation is a major requisite both in planning and executing effective promotions.
"Planning support, product support and merchandising support must be secured during the planning of a [promotion] program, before the execution can begin," the retail produce executive said. "We have suppliers in our stores doing demonstrations."
Consumers respond well to this technique, he added. "They like to ask questions about where something is grown, when it was picked, how to prepare it, and they feel confident that the grower will have the right answers."
While there are a number of good reasons to carefully think through produce promotions, a prime one is simply to make sure the stores are merchandising the season.
"Sometimes, merchandising the season is the only reason for a promotion," he added. That shows that we have a fresh department."
Frequency of promotions is another evaluation point retailers need to address, he said.
"Retailers can run too many promotions. We evaluate frequency as fact-based, using scan data, promotional data we share and receive from commodity boards, suppliers and brokers, and in-house category management."
Recently, Save Mart Supermarkets promoted the entire mushroom category using Junqueiro's formula from start to finish, including the planning, implementing and evaluating steps.
"Mushrooms offered us an opportunity," he said. "They have a high profile in the west. There was good bulk and packaged sales. Specialty mushrooms represented the major growth area."
He also decided to promote multiple items to create a powerful synergy. "We wanted to build the whole category, so we promoted the whole category," Junqueiro said. The store also extensively demonstrated products for the promotion.
As a result, Junqueiro said, the program netted Save Mart a 101% growth in specialty mushrooms sales.
"There is no merchandising program without communication with suppliers, operations people and store-level people," he said. "And there is no merchandising program without execution. Plan your work and work your plan. After all, the planners and architects of merchandising programs are only as good as the execution of the plan. Everyone is responsible to pull off the program."
A banana promotional plan was another opportunity to put Save Mart Supermarkets' formula to the test. "We wanted to increase the quality of the product and increase display space," Junqueiro said.
The chain instituted quality audits at retail and at the warehouse. The audits identified best practices for handling and merchandising, and then Save Mart established a promotional strategy using both traditional item and price methods and an institutional message touting the benefits of bananas.
"We educated everyone, from the person who unloaded the bananas at the warehouse, to the person who ripens the bananas to the store-level personnel, just what the program was and what we hoped to accomplish," Junqueiro explained.
Since that promotion makeover, the category has been enjoying constant increases in quarterly gross profits and sales; and over three years, a 45% reduction in shrink, he reported.