PENN TRAFFIC PROMOTING CONTAINERS WITH TIE-INS

SYRACUSE N.Y. -- Penn Traffic Co. here has instituted an aggressive cross-merchandising and advertising program for food-storage containers in an effort to increase incremental sales in the impulse-driven category. Food containers have been integrated in appropriate grocery and produce departments, with bread-storage containers positioned alongside baked breads, salad keepers merchandised in produce

SYRACUSE N.Y. -- Penn Traffic Co. here has instituted an aggressive cross-merchandising and advertising program for food-storage containers in an effort to increase incremental sales in the impulse-driven category. Food containers have been integrated in appropriate grocery and produce departments, with bread-storage containers positioned alongside baked breads, salad keepers merchandised in produce and party-size containers found at the cheese shop.

The program was rolled out earlier this year at 36 of Penn Traffic's corporate Riverside Markets, Bi-Lo Foods and some 30 of the 70 franchised Riverside Markets in Pennsylvania. "We started taking a more aggressive stance in cross-merchandising food-storage products by tying them in with grocery features and ad specials in the produce and bakery departments, and with cereal and pasta products," said Mike O'Shell, general merchandise buyer. He said additional franchised retail accounts are "getting into stronger food-storage cross-merchandising. In fact, we've even gone as far as making a video as a selling tool that shows how to cross-merchandise food storage with perishables.

"We're using an aggressive everyday tie-in program of merchandising food-storage products in all departments, and also with our major ad feature items," said O'Shell. Stores are promoting within the department and also at other sections where cross-merchandising certain sizes and kinds of food-storage accessories makes sense, the buyer said.

On average, Penn Traffic's corporate

and franchised units typically will highlight at least one or more food-storage products each month. "At least every month, food storage ends up being an ad tie-in, whether with a cereal or other dry product like pasta and even sandwich-size containers for all the lunches, when running tuna," said O'Shell. Retailers have experienced solid sales results by supporting the cross-merchandising strategy with ad specials and mass display endcaps that give the food-storage assortment greater prominence in the overall in-store presentation. "When we run a cereal promotion we'll tie-in large, dry-cereal containers in an endcap and devote the middle eye-level position to the containers," said O'Shell. "We surround them at the top and bottom with the cereal packages. This usually does quite well in selling a fair amount of the food storage at full retail." He added that "if we want to get aggressive, we'll cut the margins a little bit and advertise it in something like a dollar-day sale, and get a bigger return." Retailers are displaying aisle stackers of plastic party trays close to meat or cheese cases, while the cheese shops at some units devote shelf space to other food-storage products near dipping mustards. "They tie right in and are signed with pricing for the impulse sale," O'Shell added.

To gear up for the more forceful push in the food-storage area, "we had a meeting internally with all the perishables directors, telling them that we were going to make a major effort at cross-merchandising. We always had a good clip strip program in the aisle in produce, meat, cheese and dairy." The results, according to O'Shell, are having positive impact on the category's sales. "We started going after tie-ins at and on display cases. We're making it easier for the customer to pick up something they didn't plan on buying, and to make it easier for them to find something to buy," O'Shell added. "If you look at it from pure bottom line, you're throwing in high-impulse products at a high profit department."

Everyday food-storage products are priced from under $1 to $6.99 and are all displayed in single selling units.