ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Wegmans Food Markets here is co-sponsoring a promotion that could develop additional volume in its camera departments by teaching students about photography.
The 48-unit retailer has teamed with Kodak, also here, on the program, called "Using Cameras in the Curriculum." The partnering will enable Wegmans to build on the dollar volume that film, cameras and photo-finishing services increasingly offer food retailers, and will foster a budding customer base of students for the retailer's camera department. "This [promotion] has a lot of potential and is in a category food retailers can get into in a bigger way," said a Wegmans spokeswoman. "It's a new program that we're just now getting involved with, and we haven't had any feedback yet as to the impact this can have on camera, film and processing sales at our stores." Wegmans' contribution to the program is to provide free film processing and to host store tours of the photo minilabs at 22 Wegmans locations that offer one-hour service, the spokeswoman said.
Kodak supplies environmentally friendly recyclable single-use cameras that can be used by the students and in teacher photo kits. Charles Fischer, manager of educational programs for Kodak's consumer imaging unit, said several grocers that have participated in the program reported to Kodak that "half the kids, within a reasonable length of time after the program, received a camera, and the program was a catalyst in getting them interested in photography. "When the parents come in to pick up the free pictures, it's an opportune time for retailers to sell an enlargement or a camera.
"We know single-use camera trials are the best promotion vehicles because once people use them they love them and continue
to use them," he explained. Fischer said Kodak encourages retailers to merchandise single-use and traditional cameras around the program for when the children come back to the stores.
Although another chain, H-E-B Grocery Co., San Antonio, conducted a limited test of the program last year, "we've had bigger pickup from the drug chains," said Fischer. "The food chains have not been as fast in picking up on this program as Kmart and Eckards and Osco have.
"Every Kmart store nationwide partners with a local second-grade classroom, so the chain is reaching almost 250,000 students," he continued. "And the Kmart curriculum guide features customized lesson plans that focus on the environment."
Wegmans kicked off the program this spring with its first elementary class. The retailer "hopes to carry it forward when the next school year begins in September.
"We've had one [class] tour so far. Instead of going to one of our stores to see the one-hour minilab at work, the class went instead to the main photo-processing center we operate at our distribution center for our stores without one-hour labs," the spokeswoman said.
"Smaller classrooms, however, will tour an actual in-store minilab."
According to Fischer, a key element in making this concept successful is "an in-store minilab that's part of the store tour. The kids can come in and actually see how a roll of film is processed and how a camera is recycled." "Kodak notified the schools the program was available, and the school contacted us," said the Wegmans spokeswoman. "The whole point is to come in and see how film is processed," she continued. "They use their cameras based on directions the teacher gives them from the workbook, and they bring the single-use cameras to us to process the pictures and give them a mini tour of the lab." During the photo-processing tour at Wegmans "we talk about recycling efforts and how we recycle single-use cameras and other related materials," said the spokeswoman. "The kids learn about the other end of the photography cycle and what happens after they take their pictures: how cameras work, how film is processed and how recycling and environmental issues are related to photography. "
In addition to receiving the cameras, teachers also get a teaching guide, poster, students' and parents' questionnaires and other materials. In the Kmart program the classrooms also receive a video that demonstrates picture-taking techniques and innovative ways to implement the program. The program targets first through sixth graders, a level where kids want to learn generally, and is about the fun of photography.
The program also tries to illustrate to teachers and parents the value of photography, said Fischer.