PLANTERS OFFERS CROSS-MERCHANDISING TIPS

TAMPA, Fla. -- A cross-merchandising promotion needs to make sense and be easily executed to succeed, according to an executive with a leading snack company."From the intuitive sense, you have to make sure that the brands are compatible and complementary. They really have to go with one another in order for the promotion to be a success," said Donald G. Smith, director of business development at Planters

TAMPA, Fla. -- A cross-merchandising promotion needs to make sense and be easily executed to succeed, according to an executive with a leading snack company.

"From the intuitive sense, you have to make sure that the brands are compatible and complementary. They really have to go with one another in order for the promotion to be a success," said Donald G. Smith, director of business development at Planters Co., the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based subsidiary of Nabisco Foods Group.

Smith spoke in late January at a cross-merchandising conference here that was sponsored by the Institute for International Research, New York.

As an example, he cited a cross-merchandising promotion between Planters and Campbell's Soup to play on the phrase "from soup to nuts." The promotion was a flop because the two products had nothing in common aside from the phrase. "A key point is not to get cute. It usually doesn't work," Smith said.

However, Planters has had more success with promotions with symbiotic products. A promotion between salty nuts and Coca-Cola went over well, for instance, as did a picnic theme freestanding insert with the Solo Cup company.

"You have to look at your resources and see if you have the power to internally run the promotion. Look at what the payout is. In other words, is the juice worth the squeeze?"

Smith added, "You also have to examine if the promotion will dilute other planned activities. If it is going to dilute the sales force from other things already out there, then we probably wouldn't do it."

Brand marketers also need to make sure their cross-merchandising partners will support their half of the program.

And with the in-store displays, Smith said, brand marketers should shy away from making large inventory commitments, customized shippers and special packs.