CHICAGO -- M&M/Mars is using account-specific promotions with its retail partners to build business for both itself and stores, according to a company official.
For instance, for last year's election and launch of the blue M&M chocolate candy color and national campaign, the Hackettstown, N.J.-based confectioner created successful promotions with the King Soopers division of Kroger in Denver, and Jewel and Dominick's in Chicago, among other chains.
"We tried to bring traffic into our retailers. We had a national premium offer. We received over 10 million votes," Stephen H. Vesce, group marketing director at M&M/Mars, said at an Account Specific Marketing conference here. The meeting was sponsored by the Institute for International Research, New York.
"We needed a national campaign to anchor the program, but it needed to have some flexibility so our trade partners can participate. We decided to maximize this so we would use a year-long strategy," he said.
M&M/Mars also created special campaigns for the drug, convenience and movie theater channels as well, he noted.
"In the grocery and mass merchandising channels we had pretty standard promotions with huge displays. For public relations, we tried to have it like a presidential tour where we went to key markets with the characters and tried to build excitement," he said.
In Chicago, M&M/Mars teamed with Discovery Zone by creating account-specific secondary wrappers for its products sold through Jewel and Dominick's locations. The wrappers offered a free Discovery Zone admission for a second child.
"In the Discovery Zone ball game, if the kids found a blue ball with an M on it, they would win a mini plush M&M toy as well. This worked very well with the retailer, and when they checked out, they got a 50-cent coupon to bring them right back to Jewel or Dominick's," he explained.
In Denver, King Sooper's devoted the whole first page of its circular to a sweepstakes that featured a trip for four to the M&Ms Chocolate Candies Fun Factory as a grand prize.
"It was account-specific and backed with a large display in the stores," Vesce said.
Other account-specific versions of the promotion included in-store sweepstakes, a coloring contest, an essay sweepstakes and a contest to guess the number of M&Ms in a precounted jar that was filled at the factory. Similar versions of these promotions are kept on hand for the company's other products, he said.
"When it comes to a promotion, one size fits all is not appropriate anymore. Retailers want to set themselves apart from other retailers," Vesce added.