In an effort to drive magazine sales at the retail level, publishers are collaborating with supermarket retailers and have hit the road this summer with several health promotions.
Both Health and Prevention magazines are taking their wellness message straight to the consumer by way of retailers' parking lots. The events, which run through the end of the year, mark the first time either publication has used a truck to disseminate its message.
"We wanted to build a program that would get directly to women, and the best place to do that is the retail setting," explained Mary Morgan, vice president and publisher of Health, a Time Inc. publication, New York.
"We went to some food and drug chains explaining that we all have a similar mission. That is, women have lots of choices -- lots of magazine choices, lots of shopping choices -- and we really do appreciate and understand how tough their life is, and we as a magazine and you as a retailer are there to provide them with solutions," she said.
Retailers are excited about the truck promotion because it is an in-store event, said Dick Terlaak Poot, national marketing director of single-copy sales at Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pa., publisher of Prevention.
"They're all competing for the customer, and anything that can help them generate additional traffic and separate themselves from the competitor is something worthwhile," he said.
By taking part in this kind of promotion, retailers are communicating with their customers. "The retailer is saying, 'I'm getting something of real value. It's really important to me that you feel good about yourself, that you feel good about us as your life partner -- that we're your retailer,"' explained Morgan.
Supermarkets and drug stores provide the retail settings where Prevention's 18-wheeler will stop during the coming months on its Healthy Lifestyle tour. This week, the semi sets down at several locations of Meijer, in Michigan, and Giant Eagle, in Ohio.
Inside the truck, consumers are tested on their overall health and wellness. Tests range from melanoma scans to a blood-pressure checks and osteoporosis screenings. Participants receive a seven-page printout that explains the results, according to Jack Huber, marketing director at Prevention.
Grocery chains that signed up for the tour include: Albertson's in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Ore.; Cub Foods in Minneapolis, Chicago and Indianapolis; Meijer in Detroit; Giant Eagle in Cleveland and Pittsburgh; Tops in Buffalo, N.Y., and Rochester, N.Y.; ShopRite in Connecticut and New Jersey; Giant Food in Baltimore; and Ukrop's in Richmond, Va.
According to Prevention, the program is being so well received by so many retailers, it plans to send a second truck out next year to large community events, such as the Boise Festival or Chicago's Navy Pier. Sometimes the retail truck and the event truck would be in the same place, while at other times they would travel separately, Huber said.
Meanwhile, Health's truck, geared toward women's overall wellness, provides female shoppers with information about behavior modification, Morgan said. A 30-minute solution seminar designed to help women change their thinking and achieve better balance in their lives is at the core of the Women's Solution Tour program. Additional information and product samples from sponsors are being distributed during the tour. A $1 million sweepstakes is also part of the program.
There are about five seminars given each day for about 125 women at each location. In-store posters and fliers are issued two weeks before the truck arrives at the retail stop. Registrants are encouraged to sign up in advance or to call an 800 number for more information.
Retailers, in conjunction with Time Distribution Services, New York, are responsible for publicizing the event at the retail level. Health magazine offers additional support through a column that tracks the tour through the 20 markets where it makes appearances. Health has also sent out a direct-mail piece to all subscribers.
Major sponsors of the tour include Almay and Kellogg's Special K, which are taking the opportunity to cross merchandise their products in store.
"This is a particularly strong program, because it offers added value to our retail partners and has consumers interacting with our brand proposition, virtually at the point of purchase," said Agnes Landau, vice president of marketing at Almay, New York.
"We're very excited about the opportunity to leverage at the retail location," added Kenna Bridges, manager of product publicity at Kellogg's, Battle Creek, Mich.
Morgan said she is encouraging cross merchandising of Health magazine and the sponsors' products, but "we've not put any unusual demands upon [the retailer]."
Among the supermarket chains committing to Health's truck promotion are ShopRite in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area; Byerly's in the Midwest; Ukrop's in Virginia; and Albertson's in California.
Other promotions and events with support from publishers that grocery retailers might consider include a tie-in with a special issue of a magazine, such as Vanity Fair's Hollywood issue, with video rental, popcorn, ice cream, gourmet cakes and wines, suggested Steven Safran, national marketing manager at Conde Nast, New York.
"You could create a sense of excitement and fun and have an entertainment promotion at retail," he added.
Safran noted the value of cross merchandising and promoting beauty titles in the health and beauty care and cosmetics section. "You can create a promotion around beauty titles, so the consumer will buy the magazines buy something in that section," he said.