PUYALLUP, Wash. -- Independent supermarket operator Puget Sound Marketing Co. here is hitting sooner with seasonal candy promotions as part of a strategy to take a more aggressive approach the category's sales.
"We've jumped on the bandwagon and started to promote seasonal candy earlier than we used to," said Moody Lauderdale, Puget's nonfood supervisor. "We used to wait longer, for example, about a week after one holiday ended, to put up displays for the next holiday. Now we'll put up our Easter display as soon as Valentine's Day is over."
The tactic is paying off, he said, though he would not disclose actual sales figures. "We've seen some positive results in terms of increased sales. It gives us better sell-through and we can also get better deals from our suppliers."
Lauderdale said Puget Sound, which operates seven stores in the Seattle-Tacoma area under the Bag & Save Foods and Hogan's Market banners, tries to be active in candy merchandising all the time, but especially near holidays.
Involvement of store personnel, he said, is a key. "The most effective way to get the support you need from store personnel is through candy contests. We've been able to get support for them from our suppliers. The contests create a lot of excitement on the store level and make for competition between stores. They also result in better displays and increased sales.
"The use of a candy table has been good for us," he added. "We put our bars on it and put it in the lobby where it's more visible. It's an attractive way to display our count items."
Lauderdale said Puget Sound's stores don't offer upscale candy items. "In some stores those products have done well. We have only one location where those sort of products did well. In the meantime, you have to keep up the displays and they take up valuable space. "Most of our candy is the bagged packages. We don't get into gift packs, but during Valentine's Day and Easter we get into hearts and assorted candy. We buy most of our boxed candy at the candy show."
The candy sections, he added, are not filled exclusively with candy. "We do well in our candy department by tying in with other gift items like plush toys. They're a natural tie-in and create a lot of impulse sales."