Retailers are heavily into the holiday spirit with a variety of unique promotions designed to increase basket ring during and after the entertaining season.
Among the offers is Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway's annual “two-hour” turkey recipe which includes several private-label ingredients, including Safeway Select Verdi olive oil, Safeway ground black pepper and Safeway fat-free chicken broth. The retailer is also offering triple coupons up to and including 33 cents through Dec. 26.
Wild Oats Markets, Boulder, Colo., got into the festivities by presenting a live online chat Nov. 8 to help shoppers choose which wine makes a good gift and goes best with holiday meals. The chat was hosted by Bob Blue, founding winemaker for Bonterra Vineyards in California, which produces organic wine.
Dierbergs, Chesterfield, Mo., is offering a 40-page holiday idea book filled with recipes and gift ideas. While Spokane, Wash.-based Rosauers Supermarket ran two 13-hour holiday sales aimed at spurring stock-up shopping.
These and other holiday promotions are more important than ever due to channel blurring, said Ted Taft, managing director of Meridian Consulting, Westport, Conn.
“While free turkeys are great at generating foot traffic, retailers want to keep consumers shopping in their stores after the holidays,” he said.
To do so, many are enhancing holiday promotions by featuring products from different areas of the store in hopes of introducing consumers to products they may not have previously purchased.
“As retailers try to become a one-stop-shop, they're focusing not only on selling just turkeys and cranberries, but also trying to take advantage of the strength of [the store's] perimeter,” Taft said.
The goal of this kind of strategy is attracting new shoppers as well as generating incremental sales from existing ones.
“Bundling different elements into promotions can create awareness and build usage,” he said.
Rosauers' first 13-hour holiday sale was held on Nov. 2 and featured numerous baking items at significant discounts. It covered more than two dozen categories and more than 200 stockkeeping units, including cake mixes, spices and baking chocolate. Another took place on Nov. 9 for wine and cheese.
These two 13-hour events join several others that run throughout the year in various departments, including meat, produce and candy.
Each takes place from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The times once were 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but an extra hour was added to accommodate those who wanted an earlier start, said Don Whittaker, grocery director.
“People are lined up outside our doors at 7 a.m.,” he noted.
Rosauers uses the sales to generate incremental sales and attract new customers.
Customer response is so good that many people fill their entire carts with discounted products.
“The baking sale enables people to get all their baking needs for the holidays,” Whittaker explained.
Discounts are valid on all in-stock merchandise. Although rain checks are not offered, there are no purchase limits.
This is the second year Rosauers conducted a 13-hour wine and cheese promotion, which offered both categories at 20% off. Discounts were also offered on specialty breads.
Along with tried-and-true annual promotions such as Rosauers' 13-hour sales, retailers are developing new events for the holidays.
Hy-Vee Food Stores, for instance, has switched its annual “Brands for Grands” private-label promotion to Nov. 13 through Dec. 18. It previously ran in July.
Brands for Grands rewards shoppers based on how many private-label products they have in their homes. Hy-Vee's labels include Hy-Vee, Hy-Vee Grand Selections, Midwest Country Fare and Hy-Vee HealthMarket.
“Hy-Vee decided to run this promotion during the weeks between Thanksgiving and right before Christmas in an effort to maintain sales momentum — and of course reward some very loyal and lucky customers with a little extra cash for the holidays,” Donna Tweeten, spokeswoman of the West Des Moines, Iowa-based retailer, told SN.
Under Brands for Grands, a customer in each of Hy-Vee's 12 markets receives $100 (up to $2,500) for each Hy-Vee label product he or she can pull out of the pantry, take out of the cabinet or find in the refrigerator during a surprise home visit. The home visits are videotaped and turned into television commercials. One person is selected to be a mega winner — receiving $1,000 for each item, up to $25,000.
“This is a fun and unique promotion that allows for a ‘brand’ experience outside of the store and into the consumer's home,” Tweeten said.
While Hy-Vee's program is certainly novel, the holidays may not be the best time to promote private label, said Frank Dell, president of Dellmart & Co., Stamford, Conn., a management consulting company.
That's because home cooks need to buy certain items for entertaining, so they are less price-sensitive.
“Holiday promotions are risky because people are prepared to spend money,” Dell said.
Still, Dell applauds Hy-Vee for treating its own labels just like national-brand manufacturers do with theirs.
Other retailers should take notice, he said, and promote their store brands via contests, or, at the least, via traditional sampling and demonstrations.
“There are plenty of opportunities to create more retail excitement about private label,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hy-Vee is not alone in enhancing its holiday campaigns. Green Hills Farms, Syracuse, N.Y., revamped a major Thanksgiving promotion in an effort to build excitement about its new loyalty program.
Instead of giving away free turkeys for Thanksgiving, it developed an offer tied to its new SmartShop loyalty program.
Postcards containing store discounts were mailed to 1,500 of the store's top-spending SmartShop customers. SmartShop is Green Hills' new loyalty program that provides customized savings based on individual buying habits. Participants receive about 20 personalized offers each week once they sign up with the store's free biometric fingerscan identification system.
The postcards included coupons for $10 off any purchase, plus a 16-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola or Pepsi for 99 cents and a 10-inch pumpkin pie for $3.99, according to Lisa Piron, director of management information systems. The offer expired Nov. 25.
“We look at the holidays as a time to reward customers and give back,” Piron said.
Until this year, Green Hills awarded a free turkey to those who spent $500 over 10 weeks, plus additional free items to those who spent more.
Customers have responded well to the new promotion and have not objected to the fact that they are no longer getting a free turkey. That's likely because if they earned a free turkey in years' past, that means they're top spenders, and would have likely received this year's mailer anyway, Piron said.
Plus, redemption in the former program was down, signaling it was time to refresh the offer.
“We think customers will be pleased with the mailer because it allows them to pick and choose what they want, rather than telling them what to get,” she said.
Another Green Hills holiday effort was designed to increase SmartShop enrollment. Six popular holiday foods — including canned cranberries, coffee and vegetables — were offered at a significant discount to SmartShop participants. Selections included a 34-ounce can of Maxwell House coffee for $3.99, and Green Giant canned vegetables, 3 for $1.
The offer was valid only for SmartShop shoppers, a strategy designed to entice more people to enroll.
“We're hoping we can catch people we haven't been able to catch before,” Piron said.