ATLANTA -- When it comes to introducing its shoppers to a new beverage, the Kroger Co. division here is one smooth operator.
The Cincinnati-based chain used a festive, full-page, four-color newspaper ad, couponing, in-store sampling and displays to get the word out that it is becoming the first supermarket in its operating area to stock Hansen's Natural Fruit Juice Smoothie line of canned beverages.
The ad appeared with the headline "World's smoothest taste now available at Kroger!" The juices were priced at 59 cents per 11.5-ounce can. The ad also contained a buy-four-get-one-free manufacturer coupon.
The shelf-stable Smoothie is an all-natural, 35% juice, nectar-like fruit drink that is available in strawberry banana, peach berry, mango pineapple, guava berry and pineapple coconut varieties. In addition to cans, glass bottles are now in the process of being introduced.
Officials at Kroger declined comment, but Kirk Blower, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Anaheim, Calif.-based Hansen's Natural Corp. said it is the first time that Hansen's has participated in such a large-scale promotion.
"Kroger is a trend-setter that likes to lead in the marketplace with new and exciting products. When their merchandiser read about our product, he contacted us and we put together a kick-off program that included that full-page ad, in-store displays and demos," Blower said.
"We've never done anything like that. We've always been a part of a retailer's ad. This was really the first time we've taken that direction and it was mainly because Kroger was excited about it, recommended it and wanted to be the leader in the marketplace with a new item," he explained.
Blower didn't have specific
sales figures, but said the product had been well-received by shoppers.
"The shoppers that went in the store mentioned to many of the demonstrators that they had seen the full-page ad and were intrigued by it. As a result, they were somewhat predisposed to try it when they came into the store, and sell-through was strong on the displays tied into demos," he said.
Although Smoothie is only currently sold in Kroger's Atlanta division, Blower said other divisions are interested in carrying the products.
Hansen's Smoothies were initially introduced in California and now have 100% supermarket coverage in that state. In addition to Kroger they are also sold in all Sam's Clubs and several Price/ Costco divisions, where they are packaged as a 12-count variety pack.
Hansen's also manufactures 14 stockkeeping units of 16-ounce iced teas, lemonades and juice cocktails and all-natural sodas in nine flavors. On the West Coast, the company also produces a regional brand of apple juice and produces and distributes spring water.