MEIJER PROMOTES PRIVATE-LABEL MILK

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Meijer put its own twist on a dairy case bottle-topper promotion, giving customers a huge price break on gallons of private-label milk.A bottle-topper, or ringer coupon, encircled the necks of Meijer gallons in about 50 of its stores in Ohio and Indiana in a recent promotion, a source in the area told SN.In the selected stores, the red-and-yellow coupons created an eye-catching

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Meijer put its own twist on a dairy case bottle-topper promotion, giving customers a huge price break on gallons of private-label milk.

A bottle-topper, or ringer coupon, encircled the necks of Meijer gallons in about 50 of its stores in Ohio and Indiana in a recent promotion, a source in the area told SN.

In the selected stores, the red-and-yellow coupons created an eye-catching path of color in the milk cases, he said, and at the same time sent customers to other parts of the case and other sections of the store for products they may not have been familiar with. Ultimately, the purchase of those products allowed customers to buy a gallon of Meijer milk for less than $1.

Nestle Nesquik-flavored milk, Kellogg's three newest cereal varieties and Meijer orange juice were all part of the deal. The bottle-topper coupons were headlined, "Save Now! Up to $2.00 on one gallon of Meijer milk."

One coupon offered 50 cents off on Meijer milk with the purchase of one 64-ounce Nestle Nesquik or two 13.5- to 16-ounce bottles of Nestle Nesquik from the milk case. Another coupon on the bottle-topper offered 50 cents off a gallon of Meijer milk with the purchase of a half-gallon of Meijer orange juice --underscoring the tie to private-label items. The third coupon on the bottle-top ringer read, "Save $1.00 on Meijer milk when you buy any two of the following cereals: Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats Vanilla Creme, 16.7 ounce; Kellogg's Tiger Power, 10 ounce; or Kellogg's Mini Swirlz Cinnamon Bun, 10 ounce."

In recent years, Minneapolis-based Connect USA has conducted promotions using coupons placed around the necks of gallon cartons. The promotions offered cents-off coupons for products in the grocery aisle with the purchase of a gallon of milk. This was a new twist, even though the branded manufacturers provided the funds for the couponing.

"Earlier [bottle-topper] coupons offered cents off on national-brand products that are related to milk such as cereal or cookies or frozen pizza," said Michael Klabunde, principal, Connect USA. "For example, if you bought a gallon of milk, you could use the bottle-topper coupons for cents off on a particular brand of cereal or cookies. But it's becoming more frequent that retailers want to use bottle-toppers to offer savings on their own private-label milk."

In this particular promo, a customer could get $2 taken off the price of a Meijer gallon if he bought all three items listed on the bottle-topper coupon.

"This is unusual, taking the cents off the private-label milk," said Jerry Dryer, a dairy market analyst and consultant based in Del Ray Beach, Fla.

"I don't know if it works better than the other way around," he said. "I haven't got far enough inside the consumer's head to know. But I am a big fan of cross merchandising, especially efforts like this. Anything that sells more milk is a good thing. I just saw the IRI [Information Resources Inc.] figures for 2004, showing that milk accounts for 25% of dairy case sales and yet it's only allocated 18.7% of the space in the dairy case. It's just about always undermarketed and undermerchandised."