NEW FOIL SIZE NO SMALL CHANGE FOR REYNOLDS

RICHMOND, Va. -- Trimming 2.5 inches off the width of a roll of heavy duty Reynolds Wrap may not seem like a giant new product innovation, but when the change is driven by both consumer research and supply-chain efficiencies it yields a significant category benefit.Reynolds Metals' Consumer Products division here says it has the numbers to prove it, now that it has completed the phased national introduction

RICHMOND, Va. -- Trimming 2.5 inches off the width of a roll of heavy duty Reynolds Wrap may not seem like a giant new product innovation, but when the change is driven by both consumer research and supply-chain efficiencies it yields a significant category benefit.

Reynolds Metals' Consumer Products division here says it has the numbers to prove it, now that it has completed the phased national introduction of its 12-inch-wide heavy duty aluminum foil. Now it is readying an integrated set of consumer and trade promotions aimed at boosting usage among consumers.

The new product, which replaces a 14.5-inch-wide size the company had produced for years, is already hiking sales and profits in the relatively mature, $3 billion (retail) wraps and bags category.

"The consumer data are exciting because they prove we've done the homework," said Wayne Albrecht, director of customer marketing for the Consumer Products division.

The data show a 156% sales increase and a 96% profit increase for the new item vs. the 14.5-inch size it replaced, he said. Results also showed a 7.5% foil category growth at test retailers vs. the rest of the United States. And A.C. Nielsen panel research showed that 54% of purchases were from new buyers or infrequent buyers of heavy duty foil.

"The replacement has meant more profit generated in a smaller area on the shelf," Albrecht said.

Buoyed by these results, and with the national rollout complete as of July 1, Reynolds will launch the new foil as an "everyday" product with a series of in-store and consumer promotions this fall, said Brian Spalding, senior marketing manager at Reynolds' Consumer Products division.

The campaign begins in October, using several Actmedia promotion vehicles, including Instant Coupon Machines, Aislevision and ActRadio, he said. A Valassis freestanding insert is also scheduled for October.

The in-store activities are supported with ads in several women's service magazines, and by television ads throughout the last three months of the year, Spalding said.

"We also have a variety of trade promotions, including coupons, scan programs and fund programs," he added.

Spalding said that consumer research showed that sales of the heavy duty foil can be stimulated by consumer education. Plans are to follow up the initial blitz in early 1996, beginning in January with ActNow store greeters, who will distribute a 5-inch by 7-inch informational handout and coupon. A second Valassis freestanding insert in February is designed to fuel repeat purchases.

Reynolds has traditionally marketed an 18-inch-wide heavy duty foil that is primarily used for special occasion cooking, such as for roasting turkeys, said Spalding. While a relatively low consumption item, that product continues to be offered.

The new product, a 50-foot roll, is packaged in a box that is the same width as most other wraps and bags. "This product is driven from consumer research. Consumers said that a 12-inch size would motivate them to buy and use. They see it as less wasteful," Spalding said.

That learning is reflected in a key message, "Everyday," printed right on the package front. "We had to get away from the specialty use occasion," he said.

The new heavy duty foil product is the first major result of a Reynolds efficient new product introduction initiative that the company calls FIRST, or "Fast Innovation Requires Strategy and Teamwork," said Albrecht.

"The process is designed to ensure a faster paced development process to dramatically speed new product development. Our goal is to cut what was a five-year process to a two-year process," he said.

Indeed, the current product was developed even more quickly, between May and October 1994, when test marketing began in the Western third of the United States.

Spalding noted that the changeover to a 12-inch-wide box also allowed Reynolds and its retail customers to realize some hidden cost savings. Manufacturing is now more efficient, since rolls and packages are no longer a unique size, and the plant can retool for manufacturing much more quickly.