A blast of supermarket Fourth of July campaigns are focusing on dry grocery promotional offers, seasonal displays and advertising.
"Fourth of July is the biggest week of the year for us because of campers and people coming up from Florida to get away from the heat," explained Thomas Outlaw, vice president of grocery sales for Ingles Markets, Black Mountain, N.C.
To reach its out-of-town shoppers, Ingles relies on newspaper, radio and TV advertising. The retailer also expands its usual four-page color insert in local papers to eight pages.
Ingles also has put up holiday displays. One endcap features items needed to make "s'mores," a camping favorite made with graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate. The items needed to make s'mores were also planned to be featured in the newspaper insert.
Sonny King, chairman and chief executive officer of Advantage Crown, a broker based in Irvine, Calif., also noted that Independence Day is the largest holiday of the year in California and is a very strong holiday in most parts of the country.
Advantage Crown has created a pallet program that consists of items from several different manufacturers.
"We take several manufacturers' items and package up a barbecue program," King explained. "We have pickles, ketchup and barbecue sauces, charcoal and lighter fluid, several lines of water, chili, beans, marshmallows, paper plates, foil and olives."
Some of the large chains Advantage Crown works with include Lucky Stores, Vons Cos., and Ralphs Grocery Co. Medium and large units are getting two or three pallets, each of which can hold 50 to 75 cases of items. Broker representatives typically help each store build the requisite displays.
As on the East and West Coasts, Fourth of July is also a popular holiday in the Southwest, where a variety of displays are in place.
"Displays help drive the season," said Darian Pickett, vice president of category management at Luke Soules/Southwest, a Dallas-based brokerage. "Themed events and having products available are really what increase sales."
Luke Soules/Southwest helped build displays in more than 600 stores in chains, such as Albertson's, Kroger Co., Winn-Dixie Stores, Minyard Food Stores, Brookshire Grocery Co. and Fleming Cos.
Each store has at least two Kingsford- and Heinz-themed displays. "We'll use Kingsford charcoal as a main theme brand to build a display, and add Solo plates and cups, Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing and Masterpiece barbecue sauces," explained Wade Duke, vice president of grocery at Luke Soules/Southwest.
The Heinz display may include barbecue sauce, relish and ketchup, along with store-brand hot dog buns. "We'll go from store to store and tie in related brands," explained Duke.
While the major displays are in the grocery aisle, other cross-merchandising techniques are also coming into play. For example, the charcoal is displayed underneath the meat counter, said Duke.
The broker works with stores on an individual basis, using demographic data to determine what products have the best potential in each store.
About 75 traditional holiday products, including salty snacks, carbonated drinks and warehouse items, have a sell-through of two to three times over base during the holiday period.
"Some items will be advertised in the newspaper, while others will be store specials," said Duke. "Stores are going to pick two or three main feature items and put them on radio or television with prices, like case-pack Coke, or a certain type of meat or produce item. Our items will be main feature items in the newspaper," he explained.
Rosauers Supermarkets Spokane, Wash., is featuring picnic items in an Independence Day ad, according to Pat Redmond, grocery buyer and merchandiser.
Rosauers started advertising June 25 and will follow up with another ad July 2. "Our best food day is Wednesday," Redmond said. Chips, soda, beer, ketchup, mustard and buns are among the grocery items being featured.
"There's lots of camping here," said Redmond, "So one of the top items will be water. We have private label and branded, and both are on promotion. We have one line called Pure Water, and 1-gallon sizes will be on sale at two for $1."
Rosauers has the larger 2.5-gallon sizes from Pure Water on sale at for three for $5, while its store-brand 1-gallon size is on sale at three for 99 cents. A wide assortment of microbrew beer is on special, with a six-pack "in the $5 range," said Redmond.
Displays related to picnic and party items are up in all the stores. In fact, every year the chain runs a display contest in which grocery department managers win cash prizes for their creative work. "We give out three major prizes, and then try to give everybody who builds a display a minor prize," said Redmond.
The Super Thrift division of Oklahoma City-based Fleming Cos., has put Fourth of July displays on the "Wall of Values," as well as on the perimeter of stores and endcaps. "We'll have them wherever space allows without cluttering the store," said Pat DeCarlo, marketing coordinator for the Super Thrift group.
Super Thrift will run larger than normal ad coverage in the print media this week, DeCarlo said. "We actually kicked off with a pre-holiday ad on June 25. We'll hit the big six-page ad on July 2," DeCarlo explained.
Some items the chain will have on special include charcoal, pork and beans, several types of pickles, olives, relishes, napkins and hamburger buns.
"When we are through, we'll cover all the aisles of the grocery store," said DeCarlo.
Genuardi Family Markets, Norristown, Pa., plans to break its holiday ads on Wednesday.
"We have a strong event planned for Fourth of July," said Joe Cunnane, category manager. "We will be supporting our normal circular distribution with some increased advertising in local and regional newspapers, and we'll be targeting key holiday items, including barbecue sauce, ketchup, hot dogs and hamburger meat. In addition, we'll have strong price points on soft drinks."
Genuardi's is also promoting private-label snacks and canned sodas, and is highlighting 12-ounce cans in six packs, said Cunnane.
"There will be substantial cross merchandising, which is being encouraged and organized for our store team," said Cunnane.