How to Make Promotional Ideas Effective at the Supermarket

Pretzel Crisps® Tips for Innovative and Effective Grocery Store Marketing

Supermarket savings opposite South Melbourne Market.
James Braund / Getty Images

In-store retail marketing, also known as trade promotion in some circles, is a key factor that's necessary if supermarkets and brands are to be successful. They create trial and repeat purchases and those all-important impulse sales—those items you come home from the store with that were not on your shopping list!

Pretzel Crisps® VP of Marketing Perry Abbenante knows a thing or two about retail marketing—he was the Senior Grocery Director at Whole Foods Market headquarters in Austin, Texas and was responsible for national buying and merchandising.

Perry recently gave us some advice on winning new product launch tips, not only strategy but some tactical examples of what he does with the Pretzel Crisps brand to drive sales at the point of purchase.

How Do You Get Penetration?

How do you get penetration, gaining new shoppers to buy the product? Perry said, "When you have a relatively new product, getting placement or display outside your normal department is a key strategy. In our activation markets, we get our staff on the ground to get placement outside the deli where we are normally merchandised. This tactic helps to attract new people that have never seen your product."

Offer More Than One Use 

Getting existing customers to buy more is the lifeblood of consumer foods. Perry gave us some examples on how to do this.

"Pretzel Crisps is a multi-use product. In addition to being a great standalone snack, it's great for dipping and can be paired with meat, cheese, fruit, or veggies.

An example of this is the Tortellini Delight, Slider on a Pretzel Crisp, which shows we are a great base for an appetizer. Our demos show people how to use it in more than one way. Social media helps us engage with our customers on our multi-use capabilities. Look at our Finger Food Friday recipes on Facebook.

Each week, the recipe posts give our 250,000-plus followers a new way to use our product differently."

Promotional Price Points 

Getting existing customers to purchase more during a given shopping trip helps to block the competition. Perry explained how he's used promotional price points to get more Pretzel Crisps into consumers' pantries. He said, "It's all about the price point. Most retailers have accepted the multiple price point mantra. A 2-for-$5 is more effective than $2.49 each. If you have a 2-for, you will almost guarantee that every customer will buy the multiple."

Developing Winning In-Store Promotions 

What are the steps to developing winning in-store promotions? It starts with trade commitment—getting the maximum number of shoppers near your brand. "It all starts with having a relationship with retail buyers and supporting their important merchandising programs," Perry said. "Too many brands fail to ask them what's important to them as retail buyers. If a certain promo is important to the retailer, support it! The retailer may then be more inclined to support you in the future. Don't be all about you. Be all about us!"

Stop the Shopper!

Stop the shopper—make it big, colorful and simple.

Perry told us that your in-store displays should be big enough to attract attention. He suggests arranging the display based on the colors of the packaging and creating vertical or horizontal blocks. He offered a variety of photos to illustrate. 

Perry said, "You should have an assortment of your best sellers on display. Absolutely make your display shop-able! Can the customer grab multiple bags or products without the display falling apart? Always be cognizant of store volume when you build a display. Your display should be able to survive several hours of shopping before a refill is needed."

Customer count is something that a store may not give you because it's very proprietary, but it's important. Consider doing a little field research—visit the store several times to count people within a two- to three-hour period.

It might be a little tedious, but it returns great benefits in the way of increased knowledge of your customer.

Discount-Related Claims 

Focus on discount-related claims—it has to be a compelling price point. This doesn't necessarily mean the lowest, but it should be relevant to the consumer and prompt him to act. If you were your consumer, what would incentivize you as a price point? Be honest with yourself when you answer this question.

Consider promotional mechanism claims, partnering with another brand. Try the "buy something and get something free" approach. Perry told us, "We had a promotion to buy two bags of Pretzel Crisps and get a container of hummus for free. It was very successful. Whatever your product, look for brands that have synergy with yours and contact them to see if you can partner on co-promotions."

Some Final Thoughts on Supermarket Promotion Success

"In-store promos are a key element of a successful brand. Without them, the brand will fail," Perry said. "I tell clients that they shouldn't get into the trap of believing they'll save money by avoiding the investment in retail promotions. You won't save money…you will lose shelf placement."

Perry advised, "Off-shelf promos and TPR's—temporary price reductions, that tag on the shelf—is a combo that drives volume. You don't need a really big discount for a TPR. Sometimes just a 20-cent price reduction will do it because the tag attracts attention. You'll get lift and the buyer has to see promotional lift".

Promotional lift? What does that mean? "If you normally sell 10 units a week and you sold 20 units on promotion, you'd have a promotional lift of 10 units and a lift percentage of 100 percent," Perry explained. "Buyers also have another term you should know—raised base. Buyers want to see your promotional lift translate into higher non-promotion base sales. So if we had a promotional lift of 10 units per week, the buyer might want to see your post-promotion base sales increase to 13 to 15 units per week. This raised base shows the conversion of new customers with your promotions."

And don't we all want more customers and increased sales?