Apopka, Fla. — Publix Super Markets began sharing its holiday cheer early this year.
Wine and eggnog samples were part of the festivities at the retailer's annual, day-long Holiday Fest, held a week before Thanksgiving in all of its stores. Three freestanding wine displays adorned with Santas, toy soldiers, fake snow and garland were featured at a store here.
Issues of Publix's free quarterly Grape magazine, which educates consumers about food and wine, were distributed to shoppers along with wine samples at three tasting stations. Some articles in its latest edition touch on topics including wine and holiday meals and provide tips on finding the right gifts for wine lovers.
Paper neck tags with offers good during the holiday season appeared on bottles featured throughout the displays and at the sampling stations.
For instance, shoppers could save $2 on a bottle of wine from Gallo's Dancing Bull line, and $3 on any two bottles of Hogue Holiday Reds.
“We try to do a lot of instant savings rather than mail-in offers,” said George Schuh, a territory manager for Johnson Brothers, a wine distributor who was offering samples at the event.
Publix is also reducing the prices of several alcoholic beverages throughout the holidays. A 750-milliliter bottle of Red Diamond wine, for instance, which normally retails for $11.99, will instead sell for $9.99.
The Lakeland, Fla.-based retailer also recently started offering volume discounts on wine, meant to boost sales at the holidays and throughout the year. Shoppers can receive a 5% discount when they purchase four to seven bottles of non-promoted wines, and 10% off on eight or more bottles. Stores are also offering a free, reusable cloth carrier for those consumers purchasing four bottles of wine.
“This is designed to encourage trial of multiple brands, sizes and flavors from our extensive varieties of wine,” said Publix spokesman Dwaine Stevens.
The retailer is also promoting trial by displaying wines that pair well with specific meats, seafood and cheeses, in front of the appropriate department.
“Due to the increased volume, being in stock is the best way to grow the business,” said Stevens. “A good variety and competitive prices win every time.”
Publix has also updated its wine section to include shelf tags featuring flavor profile information and pairing suggestions. The signage eliminates the guesswork for many shoppers, noted Stevens.
“Our wine profile [feature] is working very well,” he said. “We have the actual wine makers assign them, based on any vintage changes.”
Wine marketers' efforts aren't limited to Publix. They're focusing on food and wine pairings in a number of outlets.
E&J Gallo is running several cross-merchandising promotions to boost sales of its brands through the holidays. Ghirardelli chocolate labels will feature a $1-off coupon for Mirassou wine along with details about a sweepstakes to “Win a Decadent Trip to Napa.”
Kroger, Target, H.E. Butt Grocery, Publix and Long's will cross-promote the items in their stores.
Retailers are also cross-merchandising beer during the holidays.
Sam's Club was the first food retailer to sign on for Anheuser-Busch's “Great Food Great Beer” cross-merchandising campaign. During December, the chain will include displays featuring AB's “Great Food, Great Beer” cookbook — which features recipes of meals that pair well with specific types of beer — along with Bud Light beer in its beer aisles. One recipe suggests pairing a European-style pilsner, such as Kirin Ichiban with striped bass with lemongrass, while another recommends serving an American-style premium lager such as Budweiser with spicy pork ribs.
Safeway and Kroger will promote the books with beer in late January and run them through the Super Bowl.
“Shoppers will get 25% off the cookbook during the Super Bowl season,” said Gary Sundgren, Safeway's nonfood category manager.
During the winter holidays, Supervalu and Kroger will take part in Beam Global's “Join In!” national coupon promotion.
The program offers both instant and mail-in rebates on products including Starbucks Coffee Liqueurs, DeKuyper liqueurs and various brands of whiskey.
Beam Global also set up a website, www.4cocktails.com, and a free hotline — 1-877-4cocktails — for consumers to provide help with holiday entertaining.
Trained mixologists and bartenders are available to answer questions on numerous topics, including cocktail recipes and how to host holiday parties.
“Through the hotline and website, we have the ability to give our retailers one more customer solution,” said Jim Driscoll, marketing manager for national supers, drugs and mass merchandisers at Beam Global. “Shoppers can be in the store on their cell phones, asking which liquors or liqueurs to buy in order to make a drink.”