GREAT BRANDS TESTS EVIAN MARKETS

GREENWICH, Conn. -- Great Brands of Europe here has embarked on a process of learning which retail stores deserve the lion's share of marketing support for its Evian brand of mineral water.From a pilot begun two months ago, the company has learned to identify certain stores that are selling "a very large multiple" of the average amount of the brand, said Greg Fea, vice president of sales for Great

GREENWICH, Conn. -- Great Brands of Europe here has embarked on a process of learning which retail stores deserve the lion's share of marketing support for its Evian brand of mineral water.

From a pilot begun two months ago, the company has learned to identify certain stores that are selling "a very large multiple" of the average amount of the brand, said Greg Fea, vice president of sales for Great Brands of Europe.

Evian is a niche product if there ever was one. Its consumers make up about 5% to 6% of the U.S. population, according to Fea. With such a profile, the ability to target stores with the greatest ability to move the brand is expected to prove invaluable to the company, he said.

Fea said that Evian is now being micromarketed with the help of store-specific demographic and psychographic data supplied by marketing analysis firm Market Metrics, Lancaster, Pa.

Great Brands of Europe, a company with $137 million in sales last year, is a subsidiary of Groupe Danone, Paris, formerly Groupe BSN.

"There's so much information available today through sources like scanner data, IRI and Market Metrics. What we're trying to do is take this wealth of information into practical uses where we can actually use it to help the trade and our distributors do a better job and obviously, in the process, also do a better job with our brand," he said.

Fea supplied Evian's consumer profile to Market Metrics, which compared it against census data and other information, to produce a report that ranks stores within retail chains according to their expected ability to move the brand.

About two months ago, the company put the program to the test by using it to target stores in six markets: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, New York, Chicago and Dallas. The pilot has not yet been concluded but Fea is watching all developments carefully. He said, "We're doing two things. We're sharing the information with the distributors and we're trying to develop a strategy that allows us to increase our investment against the neighborhoods with the highest potential to sell our products."