GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Meijer's private label is getting strong exposure from the retailer's new recipe planning website.
Of about 20 coupons currently on the two-month-old Meijer Mealbox site, at mealbox.meijer.com, eight are for Meijer-brand products, including $1 off Meijer-brand chocolate baking chips, 11 to 12 ounces; 50 cents off Meijer pasta sauce, 26 ounces; and $1 off Meijer chili powder, 2.5 ounces.
The couponed products are featured in various recipes for appetizers, breakfast, lunch and dinner. For instance, a recipe for braciole, or thin flank steak wrapped around herbs and cheese, calls for 1½ cups of Meijer-brand jarred pasta sauce.
Kraft is currently the only participating national-brand manufacturer, offering $1 off 1, $1 off 2 and other discounts on a variety of brands, including Maxwell House coffee, Kraft salad dressing, Nabisco crackers and Planters peanuts. Unilever will also be a partner soon.
Meijer hopes to expand Mealbox to include more manufacturer's coupons, Dawn Bronkema, Meijer's e-commerce marketing director, told SN.
Mealbox allows shoppers to integrate meal planning, budgeting and purchase preferences online. They can plan a calendar of meals by selecting recipes. Once they do, ingredients are automatically plugged into a shopping list, along with printable coupons for relevant sale items.
What makes the technology so unique is a widget that enables users to put Mealbox on Facebook, MySpace or another personal Web page.
“While other websites of this nature require consumers to return to the same site time after time, the widget technology allows Meijer customers to put Meijer Mealbox on their personal home page,” said Bronkema.
Once the widget has been placed, it will continue to update. This means Mealbox will automatically add the newest recipes and coupons and keep shopping lists current without requiring a return to the Mealbox site.
There already have been about 5,000 installations of the widget, according to Qponix, Ann Arbor, Mich., a joint venture of Fry Inc. and Meijer that provides the widget-based ad network. Fry, also of Ann Arbor, is an e-commerce development firm.
Mealbox is the first online program that automatically marries the coupon experience with the recipes search, Bronkema said.
“Customers do not have to click back and forth to find coupons for the recipes they choose — they're automatically added,” she said.
Customer traffic has been “robust,” and there's been a high percentage of repeat visitors, according to Bronkema. She declined to elaborate.
Several hundred thousand coupons have been downloaded since the launch, according to Qponix. The most popular coupons are producing a redemption rate of more than 25%, Bronkema said.
The retailer has enhanced the site since its June launch. A new component enables users to write their own review of the posted recipes and submit their own recipes. They can also install the widget on a computer desktop.
Mealbox enables Meijer to engage consumers more directly during purchase planning, said Qponix President Corbin de Rubertis.
“This is a way to help customers spend more time with the Meijer brand,” de Rubertis said.
By highlighting convenience and savings, Meijer will encourage customers to spend more of their shopping dollars in its stores, de Rubertis said.