Family Circle believes it has hit on a winning formula for its Sample This in-store demo promotion.
ar the magazine decided to focus on a single supermarket chain in the Northeast, 180-unit ShopRite.
Sample This has run twice already this year, most recently on Aug. 6, when 15 brand marketers participated. Two more dates are planned for November and December at ShopRite, says Elizabeth Goulian, director of merchandising services at Family Circle.
Family Circle, which claims circulation leadership among women's magazines, developed Sample This as a value-added concept to extend the reach of its advertisers' message "beyond their ad page," and to attract new advertisers, Goulian says.
When it became clear that dealing with numerous individual, high-volume supermarkets was a "logistical nightmare," says Goulian, the magazine sought out a major retail partner who would be willing to commit to the program.
"The partnership with ShopRite gives us clout," says Barbara Olinsky Applebaum, merchandising manager at Family Circle. "Now we can get into the store circular with feature price. We can get on their in-store radio and work with buyers to get additional product distribution."
Participating brand marketers in last month's promotion included the Beef Industry Council and the Beef Board, Post Cereal, Crystal Light, Hellman's Mayonnaise, Reynolds Plastic Wrap, Green Giant American Mixtures, Dannon Yogurt, Land O'Lakes butter, Dixie Kids plates and cups, Rit and Cortaid.
All the brands were featured in a ShopRite circular that week, along with an image of Family Circle magazine and a promise of "free recipe booklets, coupons and samples."
Family Circle also ran an ad in a regional edition of its Aug. 9 issue promoting Sample This. The ad also promoted an in-store giveaway of tickets to Sesame Place, an area amusement park. One of the more active participants in the latest round was Franco American Gravy, a Campbell Soup Co. brand. Anne Sakalay, senior marketing manager for the brand, says she believes the promotion provided exposure the brand might not have been able to get on its own.
"We are pursuing a recipe strategy in print for Franco American Gravy, and this is a logical extension of that. Sample This allows us to demonstrate in a real way, not just distribute a recipe," she said.
In the current demo, Franco American distributed a "wet sample" -- in this case a hot roast beef sandwich -- along with recipe leaflets containing more recipes using the gravy.
Says Sakalay, "This is synergistic with our marketing strategy and goals." She also ran recipe ads in the concurrent issue of Family Circle.
This kind of demo exposure would otherwise be cost-prohibitive for a midsized brand like Franco American Gravy, she adds. "On our own, a demo is costly. Family Circle is providing something of value to us, and creating store traffic for ShopRite by creating this program, which adds value to ShopRite."
All the various demonstrations and coupons were distributed at a single station set up in each ShopRite store, says Family Circle's Applebaum. Some manufacturers paid extra for additional in-store displays or other promotional activities.
Goulian says the link with a single retail chain provided distinct advantages for the program. Among them: nearly triple the number of stores; case displays for participating brands; mention in the store circulars, and access to free scanner data for use in subsequent evaluation.
In addition, she adds, the buyers are motivated to cooperate, logistical problems are eliminated and Family Circle enjoyed a boost in single-copy sales.
While the magazine has structured the Sample This program to bring some added value to its advertisers, it can't fully integrate the promotion with each marketer's individual objectives on a turnkey basis.
Says Sakalay of Franco American, "It is still up to us to make sure that all of this comes together. Family Circle provides the demo as a vehicle. It is up to the brand to make sure all the elements are tied together."
She adds, "Today we are all looking to see how our media and marketing dollars can stretch farther. This is definitely one of the ways to do that."