ST. LOUIS — WHEN SAVE-A-LOT OPENED A NEW STORE in Opelousas, La., and decided to give away more than 3,800 bags of groceries, it was a way “to make an emotional connection with consumers,” Mark Kotcher, director of brand marketing and design, told SN.
Each bag had 10 Save-A-Lot brand items — including pasta sauce, spaghetti, and macaroni and cheese — worth about $12, “so the giveaway cost us about $46,000 on a retail basis, and spending that much on TV wouldn't mean as much as giving people free groceries,” Kotcher explained.
Save-A-Lot needs to determine the shopper response to the giveaway before deciding whether to do it again at another new store. “It could become part of our general opening strategy,” Kotcher said, “but we want to look at the numbers first. It's likely we will repeat it, though, because of the outpouring of support we've had from customers and the media.”
To track how many of the people who received free groceries make an initial visit to the stores, Save-A-Lot included a coupon worth $5 off a $25 purchase, Kotcher explained.
The Save-A-Lot in Opelousas — located about 60 miles west of Baton Rouge — is a corporate store serving a rural community whose population is about 20,000.
“There aren't a lot of supermarket options there,” Kotcher said, “and because there's not another Save-A-Lot anywhere nearby, we started with almost zero awareness of the brand, and we thought this was a good way to introduce ourselves.”
Over a four-day period beginning Aug. 23, delivery teams went house-to-house and apartment-to-apartment within one square mile of the store distributing free bags of groceries. “And if someone outside the distribution area heard about it and came in asking about it, we gave them a free bag of groceries as well,” Kotcher said.
Save-A-Lot came up with the idea for the grocery giveaway “because we're always trying to challenge the conventional way of doing things,” Kotcher said.
“Most companies do sampling of their products in store, but if consumers are there to sample, then they're already partially sold. We thought what better way to get people to try our products than to take samples to them.
“And since we don't carry a lot of national brands, we believe that anytime we can get people to use our products to make meals enables us to win their business.