CLARK, N.J. -- ShopRite Supermarkets has teamed with vendors to create a textbook case of category management in three key Center Store departments.
With the help of Pepsi and its Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay subsidiary, the soft drink and salty snack departments have been transformed into a "Beverage and Snack Plaza."
At the same time, Nabisco, East Hanover, N.J., has developed a concept for the cookie aisle. Both programs are being conducted at ShopRite's new superstore here.
Designed to resemble a Victorian train station, the beverage/snack department has signage in the shape of arched steel girders. Large multicolored skylines featuring logos of Pepsi products line the top of one outer side of the two-aisle department, while those of Frito-Lay snacks line the other. Large G-scale "Chip City" electric toy trains run under the skyline on both sides of the aisles.
Bottled soft drinks -- including products from all the major manufacturers, private label and seltzer waters -- line the outer side of one aisle, while canned soft drinks, drink mixers and ready-to-drink iced teas are located in the center. Bottled waters and juices are in a different area of the store.
Located on the opposite side are bagged salty snacks from the major manufacturers, including potato chips, popcorn, pretzels and tortilla chips. Microwave popping corn and nuts are located in the center aisle.
Beverage and Snack Plaza is modeled after a smaller unit in the company's Forest Avenue store on Staten Island, according to Laura McCafferty, a spokeswoman for Wakefern Food Corp., Elizabeth, N.J., the cooperative wholesaler that owns ShopRite Supermarkets. Wakefern also serves as the distribution and merchandising arm for all Northeastern ShopRite stores.
"The beverage and snack aisle is the best statement of category management that we have," McCafferty told SN. "This department gives the shoppers the clear vision of both categories. It is a natural combination to have beverages and snacks together."
Pepsi expects to continue to develop other category-management programs along that line, especially once it completes the spinoff of its restaurant subsidiaries next month, said Larry Jabbonsky, a spokesman for Pepsi-Cola Co., Purchase, N.Y.
Meanwhile, the Nabisco display has a "Planet C -- Cookies, Crackers and Beyond" theme. The cookie department is conveniently located across from the upright ice cream freezer cases.
Strobe lights, blinking arrows and meteors flash on the ceiling, calling attention to the department from other areas of the store, while mobiles depicting rockets, astronauts and aliens riding Fig Newtons hang from the ceiling.
Planets, asteroids and spaceships on a curving blue background decorate the floor tiles the length of the aisle, with similar scenes depicted on a curving cardboard border topped with a string of red guideway lighting that covers the aisle's top shelf. Side signs call attention to Nabisco's Newtons, Chips Ahoy!, Snackwells, Triscuit and Oreo brands.
Signs reading "blast off with great taste," "a galaxy of goodies," and "light years of snacking" are located along the floor and on the shelf borders.
"We are taking the idea that we created in the beverage and snack aisle and piloting a new kind of look for the cookie department," McCafferty said.
Based on initial results from the Staten Island store, the category-management program has led to increased sales of soft drinks and salty snacks, she said.
If the cookie-aisle program is successful, it may be rolled out to other stores, according to McCafferty.
The 67,000-square-foot store, which opened three weeks ago, replaces a smaller unit located about a quarter of a mile away.