CHAINS UNFOLD RECYCLED PAPERBOARD AWARENESS PROGRAM

WASHINGTON -- A consumer awareness program that included a sweepstakes and a shopping challenge became an effective way for Wakefern Food Corp., Elizabeth, N.J. and Larry's Markets, Seattle, to maintain a high environmental profile, according to company officials.The pilot program was designed to introduce consumers to the new 100% recycled paperboard symbol. It was conducted by the 100% Recycled

WASHINGTON -- A consumer awareness program that included a sweepstakes and a shopping challenge became an effective way for Wakefern Food Corp., Elizabeth, N.J. and Larry's Markets, Seattle, to maintain a high environmental profile, according to company officials.

The pilot program was designed to introduce consumers to the new 100% recycled paperboard symbol. It was conducted by the 100% Recycled Paperboard Alliance here, a group of recycled paperboard manufacturers.

The effort had two parts: a two-week-long sweepstakes and a one-day shopping challenge that benefited shoppers and charitable organizations in the community.

A freestanding kiosk in each store called shoppers' attention to the sweepstakes. The kiosks contained entry forms which instructed shoppers to search the store for 10 products packaged in 100% recycled paperboard. One winner per store received a certificate for free groceries; the value varied by store.

"It's another way we can be involved with environmental issues," said Brant Rogers, manager of environmental affairs at Larry's. "Customers and employees really gained more awareness of the products [packaged in 100% recycled paperboard]." Two Larry's Market stores, one under the Lobucks name, took part in both the sweepstakes and the shopping challenge. Rogers said the chain promoted the program with materials provided by RPA-100% and supplemented those efforts with bag stuffers, mention of the program in its direct-mail

piece and some news releases.

Four stores supplied by Wakefern, a cooperative wholesaler who's stores operate under the ShopRite banner, were involved in the shopping challenge, while five stores participated in the sweepstakes, according to Stacey Schneider, a representative for RPA-100%.

Timothy Vogel, Wakefern's manager of environmental affairs, said the stores raised awareness for the campaign with advertisements in circulars, endcap displays, signs throughout the stores and shelf talkers. The promotional materials were provided by RPA-100%.

"We have a very strong environmental record; it's recognized around the country," Vogel said. "Therefore, when people want to do something that's innovative, they will come to us. We like to get involved with stuff like this because it sends a good message out, and we believe in it." The shopping challenges were one-day events in which groups from the community were invited by the store to compete in a shopping contest. According to Vogel, four three-member teams competed in a 12-minute shopping race to find 30 products packaged in 100% recycled paperboard. Prizes varied by store.

"It was a real win-win thing for the charities because they got gift certificates and the stores were good enough to donate the merchandise they shopped for to the charities, " he added. "It was a really good community function. We're looking forward to doing more [of these promotions] if that comes our way," Vogel said. Schneider said the charities picked by each of the retailers also received a donation from the stores involved, plus a matching gift from RPA-100%.

One store operated by Dominick's Finer Foods, Northlake, Ill., also ran the shopping challenge. The sweepstakes, however, was run in 80 Dominick's stores. Officials at Dominick's declined to comment.

Though sales figures were not available, Russell Currey, co-chairman of the marketing committee at RPA-100%, said the stores received an intangible benefit in the form of improved community relations.