AMERICAN GREETINGS LAUNCHES FIFTH RESEARCH COUNCIL

CLEVELAND -- With the support of the Food Marketing Institute, Washington, D.C., American Greetings here has formed a fifth American Greetings Research Council.environment where 70% of sales are controlled by 20 companies, according to a press release.The retailers representing the AGRC include: Harris Teeter, Charlotte, N.C.; Ralphs Grocery Co., Compton, Calif.; Shaw's Supermarkets, East Bridgewater,

CLEVELAND -- With the support of the Food Marketing Institute, Washington, D.C., American Greetings here has formed a fifth American Greetings Research Council.

environment where 70% of sales are controlled by 20 companies, according to a press release.

The retailers representing the AGRC include: Harris Teeter, Charlotte, N.C.; Ralphs Grocery Co., Compton, Calif.; Shaw's Supermarkets, East Bridgewater, Mass.; Gerland's Food Fair, Houston; Bashas' Markets, Chandler, Ariz.; Lofino's Food Stores, Beavercreek, Ohio; March Supermarkets, Indianapolis; Weis Markets, Sunbury, Pa.; Hy-Vee Food Stores, Cherokee Division, West Des Moines, Iowa; and Piggly Wiggly, Memphis, Tenn.

They chose their research firm, New York-based WSO Strategic Retail, at their second meeting last month, according to American Greetings' trade communications coordinator Kristi Marusic. She said the AGRC and the research firm will brainstorm ideas with retailers within the Research Council, consumer focus groups and adjacent services, such as child care, at future meetings. The AGRC's next scheduled meeting is in January 2001. Bill Parsons, vice president, corporate trade development, and ex officio member of the AGRC, said, "Helping our retailer partners to examine key issues impacting the industry is American Greetings' goal, and this is why we're committed to sponsoring an ongoing series of research councils."

Marusic said the Research Council will also focus on brand loyalty: "Why do we have certain ties to certain brands? Why are people willing to wait in line at [expensive coffee bars] when consumers can easily buy their coffee at supermarkets?"

The AGRC was conceived in 1991 with the full cooperation of FMI. The first report was published in 1992, and subsequent reports ranging from consumer shopping habits to customer loyalty were published in 1995, 1997 and 2000.

The latest AGRC will present the study's full report at the annual FMI convention in 2002, Marusic said.