JUNGLE THEMES HELP RETAILERS SNARE IGA 'EXPLORE' AWARDS

CHICAGO -- Lush jungle-themed displays incorporating Center Store products helped some retailers win this year's IGA competition that invites customers to "explore the store."Retailers were sent a guidebook by IGA here, listing the participating products. Eight different manufacturers were used in each week of the four-week promotion.Winners of the "Explore the Store With IGA" contest, held in the

CHICAGO -- Lush jungle-themed displays incorporating Center Store products helped some retailers win this year's IGA competition that invites customers to "explore the store."

Retailers were sent a guidebook by IGA here, listing the participating products. Eight different manufacturers were used in each week of the four-week promotion.

Winners of the "Explore the Store With IGA" contest, held in the spring, were announced late last month. Ten retailers won $1,500 cash, while 13 won a trip to the 1998 IGA MAP Conference in Orlando, Fla., and 27 won a Marriott Getaway Weekend package.

Center Store products featured in the promotion included Coca-Cola, Clorox liquid bleach, Prego spaghetti sauce, Smucker preserves, Welch's Juicemakers, Post Fruity Pebbles, Kingsford charcoal, Morton salt, Gerber baby foods, Hershey's Kisses, M&M's, Planters peanuts and Hellmann's/Best Foods mayonnaise.

Frozen products included Ore-Ida potato products, Pillsbury Toaster Strudel, Tostino's Pizza Rolls and Banquet Salisbury steak.

Scott Barth, assistant manager at Thorp IGA, Thorp, Wis., which also won a cash prize last year, said a Ford Explorer was the centerpiece of his store's display.

"We displayed the grocery products that were tied in with 'Explore the Store' around the Ford Explorer. We displayed those around the end aisles and the actual Explorer itself," he said, adding that the promotion led to a 5% increase in sales over last year.

Steve Heggelke, director of procurement and merchandising for Bozzuto's, Cheshire, Conn., said a 3,000-case display of Coca-Cola was the centerpiece of the award-winning display at Bozzuto's corporate-owned Adam's Super Food IGA No. 583 in West Hartford, Conn.

"We focused on tying the merchandising of this program with our advertising. Every week we ran the items that were scheduled for the 'Explore the Store' promotion in our ad the same week," he said.

James Dorcy, vice president of advertising and marketing at Bozzuto's, said Bozzuto's has been tying the IGA corporate events into its own print advertising and aggressive retail programs.

"It behooves the stores to create that display activity because it is going to drive cases. It is really a transformation from a truly promotional event to a merchandising event. That is the key," he said.

Greg Farmer, owner of Boonville IGA, Boonville, Mo., said his high-school-aged son, Justin, designed his award-winning display that involved a jungle made from Astroturf, a kiddie wading pool, lots of tropical plants and a CD player chirping bird calls.

"In that display we did not have groceries, but in our other displays we tried to tie in as much as possible with the advertising partners in the 'Explore the Store' contest, whether it was in frozen or grocery," he said.

Another prize winner, Paxton IGA, Paxton, Ill., was turned into a complete jungle, with 200 artificial ivy vines hanging from the ceiling, a green balloon arch over the entrance and 50 large stuffed animals throughout the store.

"We had an art class at the local high school make a full-size elephant head, and that is where we did most of our displays for the four weeks. We tied it in with the 'Explore the Store' signage and POP materials. That was on an endcap at the front of the store right across from the wall of values," explained Craig Riecks, co-manager.

Kids asked their parents to take them back to the store, Riecks said, and the kids were glad to find that the jungle was still there.

Real stuffed animals added the winning touch to the display at Evergreen IGA Plus in Billings, Mont., which teamed with a local taxidermist to place badgers, turkeys, pheasants, minks, deer and antelope above the cases and endcap displays.

"We also had activities. One weekend the Shriners brought their train in for rides for the kids. We had a basketball shoot, where if the customers made two out of three shots they got a free 12-pack of pop," said Ron Moore, assistant manager.

The other stores winning a $1,500 cash prize were two Russ's Market IGA stores in Lincoln, Neb.; Dodson's IGA, Everson, Wash.; Fair Avenue IGA, Hamilton, Ohio; and Kramer's IGA, Abbotsford, Wis.