G&R FELPAUSCH PROMOTION COMBINES GM, CENTER STORE

HASTINGS, Mich. -- G&R Felpausch here recently completed a successful "Meal Deals" promotion in which its general merchandise and center store teams worked together to encourage trial of a specialty food product line.The 20-store supermarket chain offered a pasta pot filled with an assortment of DeLallo-brand Italian food products for $12.99."I was able to source that pot at a very good price -- it

HASTINGS, Mich. -- G&R Felpausch here recently completed a successful "Meal Deals" promotion in which its general merchandise and center store teams worked together to encourage trial of a specialty food product line.

The 20-store supermarket chain offered a pasta pot filled with an assortment of DeLallo-brand Italian food products for $12.99.

"I was able to source that pot at a very good price -- it was a closeout deal," said Linda Schroeder, director, general merchandise, G&R Felpausch.

She said she ordered about 800 to 850 of the pots from wholesale distributor Aisenstein & Gordon, Pensauken, N.J., and sold through about 90% to 95% of them during the weeklong promotion.

Schroeder declined to reveal the price she paid for the pots, but she did say the promotion generated margins of 20%, thanks in part to some price breaks on the food items from DeLallo.

She described the promotion as one of the most successful that G&R Felpausch has ever conducted. She said the key to success in promotions of this type is to have all of the free items displayed together to make it convenient for customers to just grab their Meal Deal and take it to the register.

In this case, she said store personnel removed the pots from their boxes and displayed them with the products inside to make it a true grab-and-go promotion.

"What made it successful, No. 1, is the display," said Schroeder. "You've got to put all the free items together."

Individual stores were able to structure the displays however they wanted, but many put the pots and pasta products together on endcaps or on independent displays. Some placed the products near the meat section to encourage additional purchases of products from that section.

In addition, most stores have a "meal solutions" area where they can feature such product combinations. Several stores also conducted in-store demonstrations of the Italian food items, which included tomato paste, olive oil, pasta and related products. The promotion was designed to encourage trial of the brand, which had been offered in the stores for some time but had not been selling well.

In addition to the in-store promotional materials, the pasta-pot Meal Deal also was advertised in the stores' weekly circular.

G&R Felpausch conducts two or three such Meal Deal promotions per year, and generally shoots for a 20% profit, according to Schroeder. Past promotions have included a chili pot complete with chili fixings, and a cooler with an assortment of free picnic items. She's trying to put together another Meal Deal for early July that will tie in with fresh corn on the cob, although she said plans for that promotion are still in the early stages.

"It's one of our points of difference," said Schroeder of the Meal Deals. "It's something the big boys can't do as well as we can."