National-brand manufacturers aren’t the only industry players that have harnessed the power of social media. YouTube videos, Facebook contests, online blogs and Twitter giveaways have become a regular part of many retail private-label promotions.
Indeed, a variety of social media are communicating the quality and value of private label.
“We see social media continuing to be a key driver of our ‘own brands’ promotional activity for the foreseeable future,” Dan Donovan, spokesman for Giant Eagle, told SN.
(This article is part of SN's "Store Brands 2012: State of the Industry Report," which examines trends in private-label products and marketing. See the Related Articles list below for more stories in this report. Read Carol Angrisani's Store Brands 2012 introduction here.)
Giant Eagle has used Twitter parties, Facebook contests and online videos to promote its private labels.
For these reasons, SN recognizes Giant Eagle in its annual Top 10 list of distinguished store-brand promotions.
While social media tactics dominate the list, unique offline promotions are recognized as well. Take Stop & Shop. It commissioned a store-brand “patrol” team to hand out gift cards to shoppers with private labels in their carts.
“Customers were surprised and excited,” Stop & Shop spokeswoman Suzi Robinson noted.
SN selected the following initiatives based on a variety of criteria, including originality; prize value; and ability to generate consumer excitement about and engagement with the brand. All programs were executed over the last 18 months.
The winners appear in alphabetical order by retailer parent name.
1. Meet the Butcher
MONTVALE, N.J. — A&P placed its butchers in the spotlight when it introduced its Woodson & James steakhouse-quality Angus beef line last year.
Made from grain-fed USDA Choice Angus beef, Woodson & James is available in cuts such as porterhouse, T-bone, sirloin and ribeye.
Tom Alvarez, a butcher at A&P’s Woodcliff Lake, N.J., store, was featured in television ads and YouTube videos.
In one YouTube spot, Alvarez describes the beef as “steakhouse quality at supermarket prices.”
“I’ve never seen meat with such perfect marbling,” Alvarez states in one of the videos.
The commercials are a first for A&P private-brand promotional efforts.
“The goal was to showcase the brand as well as Tom Alvarez’s knowledge of the product,” A&P spokeswoman Marcy Connor told SN.
Alvarez is also featured on a new website,
www.woodsonandjames.com, which has recipes, a store locator and an Internet coupon for $5 off a $25 Woodson & James purchase.
A&P introduced Woodson & James over Memorial Day weekend last year in all its banners: A&P, Pathmark, Superfresh, Waldbaum’s and The Food Emporium. It timed the launch to the start of the grilling season.
At the end of the summer, A&P sponsored a tailgating cook-off before the Jets-Chargers football game at MetLife stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Six contestants competed by cooking Woodson & James steaks. The event included live entertainment with lassoing cowboys and a mechanical bull.
Five judges, including A&P’s president and chief executive officer, Sam Martin, and two Jets alumni — Bruce Harper and Randy Beverly — critiqued contestants on presentation, taste, originality and creativity.
The winner received $2,000 worth of A&P gift cards, while all six contestants received two tickets to the Jets-Chargers game and were brought onto the field during halftime for the announcement of the winners.
“The cook-off provided a fun way to bring the brand to life and get consumers to interact with it,” Connor noted.
2. Bi-Lo Scores a Touchdown
GREENVILLE, S.C. — Bi-Lo rewarded shoppers for their private-label purchases with tickets to a Clemson University football game.
Under the “No Dough” promotion, customers who purchased any six participating Southern Home, Full Circle or Signature Deli items in one transaction with their Bi-Lo loyalty card received a voucher for two free tickets to a Clemson football game. More than 2,000 tickets were distributed.
Eligible products included Southern Home Break N Bake Cookies, Full Circle Soy Crisps, Signature Deli teas and others.
The campaign supplements another Bi-Lo effort in which the retailer partners with Clemson and the University of South Carolina by giving away basketball and baseball tickets from both universities. While that promotion is well received at USC, it did not take off as quickly at Clemson.
Bi-Lo hopes the football promo boosts awareness of its other promotions at Clemson, said Katie Batista, Bi-Lo’s events and sports marketing manager.
“We wanted to get fans excited about it, and free football tickets are the best way to do that,” she said.
The promotion was received well because there are not many opportunities to get free college football tickets for the Clemson or USC teams, Batista noted.
“The No Dough promotion provides a unique opportunity for fans and shoppers alike that can only be received by visiting their neighborhood Bi-Lo,” said Batista.
3. Twitter Tactics
PITTSBURGH — Giant Eagle has made a significant investment in digital media as a private-label marketing tool.
Throughout the last year, it has run several Twitter promotions aimed at building awareness of its store brands. In a promotion called “My Favorite Giant Eagle Brand,” Giant Eagle gave out $150 gift cards to Twitter followers who Tweeted about their favorite Giant Eagle-brand products. One gift card was awarded every day for a week.
Among the Giant Eagle-brand products people Tweeted about: ice cream, ready-to-serve soup and chunky pasta sauce.
“Social media is a key component of our digital-marketing strategy, and lends itself very well to highlighting both brand-specific and new ‘Own Brands’ promotions,” Giant Eagle spokesman Brian Donovan said.
The retailer also partnered with consumer packaged goods companies for Twitter contests. During one such event, Giant Eagle Tweeted various questions about Gillette and shaving. The first five people who Tweeted back the right answer to @Giant_Eagle, using the hashtag #GEGillette won a new Gillette Fusion ProGlide shaving kit.
More recently, it used social media to demonstrate product use, including an online video of a one of its chefs cooking with its Market District private-label pasta sauce.
There are many benefits to utilizing social media to promote Giant Eagle’s private-label offerings, said Donovan.
“Social media allows us to focus on those customers who are most engaged with our brands, and who traditionally provide the most detailed feedback,” said Donovan.
Social media also allows for quick consumer feedback, thanks to real-time two-way customer communication, Donovan said.
Giant Eagle also uses social media to consolidate all of its private-label marketing messages.
“We are able to utilize social media to call attention to our broadcast, circular and in-store communication vehicles, maximizing the reach of these more traditional tools, all at comparatively small cost,” Donovan said.