ARCADIA, Calif. -- Following the success of a gasoline cross-promotion, next spring Vons Cos. here may pursue other traffic-building promotions tied into nonfood. Under the Shell gasoline promotion, customers who purchased $25 worth of merchandise at Vons received a certificate worth $1 off all grades of Shell gasoline. The promotion helped drive up an average checkout transaction by about $5, and increased store traffic, according to BDS Marketing, a marketing firm in Irvine, Calif., that created the four-week campaign that ran last spring. A Vons source, who asked not to be identified, confirmed the promotion boosted store traffic, but declined to discuss its effect on register sales. Other chain officials declined further comment. Greg Ritter, vice president of trade marketing at BDS, said gasoline was a good item to feature because it has wide appeal among customers.
"Unlike other types of supermarket general merchandise tie-ins, such as dishware or flatware continuities, gasoline is a product that almost every Vons customer uses," he said. Vons customers could use the certificates to receive $1 off a minimum $10 gallon fill-up at Shell stations. About 9% of the certificates that 292 Vons stores distributed during the promotion period were actually redeemed. The promotion was publicized in radio commercials, in signs and through direct mail. Ritter said Vons and Shell shared in the cost of the free gasoline. Vons would like to run a similar promotion again next spring, focusing either on gasoline or another nonfood item, said Ritter.
"Instead of gasoline it could be a 'buy-one, get-one-free' or half-price movie ticket with a minimum $25 Vons purchase," said Ritter.
As an added feature for the next program, the retailer may include a sweepstakes offering a year's supply of free groceries, valued at $5,000, or a year's worth of free gasoline. A sweepstakes wasn't included in the Shell campaign due to lead-time problems.
"Vons would like to do it this time," he said. "A customer would still have to come to the chain and make a purchase to qualify for the free gasoline certificate, but any consumer could enter the sweepstakes." Spring is a good time for the promotion because it doesn't compete with first-quarter and summer seasonal sales, said Ritter.