Cereal may not sound like the ideal selling tool for books and magazines. But placement in areas like this is becoming a popular way for supermarkets to increase impulse sales of periodicals.
Thanks to expanded cross-merchandising programs, specialty publications are being brought to cereal, baby, produce
and other grocery sections.
In a further attempt to cash in on the high impulse movement of books and magazines at nontraditional areas, chains are running more periodical promotions, taking advantage of the natural synergies offered in other areas of the store to promote highly profitable books and magazines.
Ralphs Grocery Co., Compton, Calif.; Mayfair Super Markets, Elizabeth, N.J., and Ukrop's Super Markets, Richmond, Va., recently have given higher visibility to Organic Gardening magazine in two-pocket floor stands at the produce department next to organic produce displays, according to Chuck Tripp, director of retail sales at Men's Health magazine. Both Men's Health and Organic Gardening are published by Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pa. This was Mayfair's first attempt at cross-promoting gardening magazines at produce, according to Tony Anello, the chain's director of nonfood. Ukrop's has little space for items other than produce, but it takes advantage of certain cross-promotion opportunities, such as featuring corn holders when corn is in season, or gardening magazines in the summer, said Stephen Melton, manager of produce merchandising at Ukrop's.
Books or magazines tied in with produce can bring in additional marginal sales as long they're displayed in a turnkey fashion and kept neat and clean, Melton said.
By arranging books or magazines at alternative areas, Melton said a news distributor usually addresses the issues of maintaining the display, signs and stock.
Abco Foods, Phoenix, a 70-unit chain, devotes 4 to 6 feet of space in its cereal aisle for 60 to 100 children's books, according to Vic Anthony, general merchandise buyer.
The chain reports that cross-promoting in satellite areas like cereal has produced 10% to 15% higher category sales, due, in part, to increased incremental purchases. "Promoting books and magazines in alternative areas increases interest in the products," said Anthony. "When customers don't find exactly what they're looking for in the [supplemental] racks, they go to the main book department."
The chain also has placed a floor rack containing major women's magazines in the cosmetic department, while baby books can be found in the baby aisle. Specialized titles, such as books on barbecues, have been located on freestanding fixtures with related seasonal merchandise, such as charcoal. "We've also had how-to specialty books in the garden shop and at the fresh food counters," said Nick Borze, director of general merchandise, health and beauty care and video at Abco. Hughes Family Markets, Irwindale, Calif., a 51-store chain, is cross merchandising a full line of publications at $1.99 to $9, according to Wayne Streva, buyer-merchandiser of books. The line carries 35% margins.
Books on health, for instance, can be found on the side of vitamin racks, while other titles are displayed on J-hooks in various grocery departments. The retailer offers children's titles in the baby formula section and pet care titles in the pet aisle. Other specialty publications, such as a "how-to" series, are racked at the deli, floral and fresh seafood departments. "The titles have wide appeal and range from how to put in a sprinkler system, build a patio or cook gourmet meals," Streva said. Young adult titles, such as "Goose Bumps," toned-down horror stories, are also popular, he added. At Ray's Food Place, Brookings, Ore., a 34-store chain, specialty periodicals and books can be found at the cereal and baby aisles, and also near organic areas in produce, seafood and HBC. These locations help focus shopper attention to the high profit publications, said Dan Van Zant, Ray's supervisor for general merchandise and HBC.
Ray's displays books on home health care remedies on a rack attached to the side of an endcap in the HBC department. The mix, priced at $11.99 with 50% profit margins, is on a guaranteed program.
"It has worked out pretty well. We're moving a few books," said Van Zant. Titles cover health-related issues,
food and nutrition, diet, lowering cholesterol and exercise.
Ray's also features gardening books and cookbooks on racks adjacent to produce. These titles represent strong impulse sales from consumers who don't make it to a book store or health foods retailer, said Van Zant. Ray's also merchandises spinner racks of religious books priced at $1.95 to $4.95 at stores catering to older shoppers. These books, which carry 45% to 50% margins, do better at communities with more older consumers or retired persons, the retailer said. Strack & Van Til, Highland, Ind., reports that sales of its overall books and magazines are up 10% to 12%. The chain devotes 20 to 40 feet to its mainline magazine racks, but it also may expand into other locations in the store.
The chain has revamped its 8-foot children's book section, which features items priced from 99 cents to $12.99, said Joe Kolavo, general merchandise and HBC buyer-supervisor. Part of the section's new look is the addition of a combination TV monitor and videocassette player that plays "The Lion King" and other children's videos.
"This helps draw people over to the book area," Kolavo said. The retailer also may place assorted health-related books across from the pharmacy at two of its stores.
"That seems to be a good spot for a spinner rack with pockets of books priced at $2.99 about vitamins and a healthy diet," he said, citing that it sparks impulse sales from people waiting in line.