RETAILERS PROMOTE HISPANIC BASEBALL

CARTERET, N.J. -- As multicultural marketing continues to gain excitement in the food-retailing industry, Pathmark Stores here was among several retailers that supported a major Hispanic baseball event with store advertising, Center Store displays and contests.The 144-store chain -- along with ShopRite, members of the Wakefern Food Corp. cooperative, Elizabeth, N.J.; Fiesta Mart, Houston; and independent

CARTERET, N.J. -- As multicultural marketing continues to gain excitement in the food-retailing industry, Pathmark Stores here was among several retailers that supported a major Hispanic baseball event with store advertising, Center Store displays and contests.

The 144-store chain -- along with ShopRite, members of the Wakefern Food Corp. cooperative, Elizabeth, N.J.; Fiesta Mart, Houston; and independent supermarket owners -- backed a retail promotion for the 54th Annual Caribbean Baseball World Series, held last month in Puerto Rico. The series, clinched by the Dominican Republic, is the high point of professional baseball competition in Latin America.

The promotion included baseball-themed prizes and a chance to win a trip to Puerto Rico to watch the series. End-aisle displays and point-of-sale materials were also included, along with local television, radio and print advertising. Pepsi-Cola Co., Kraft Foods and Masterfoods USA were among the manufacturer participants at several chains.

Independent supermarkets in the New York tri-state area that participated included C-Town, Bravo, Aim, Associated, Met Food, Pioneer, Foodtown, Food Choice and Compare. Pueblo Stores in Puerto Rico also participated.

Pathmark's involvement focused on an account-specific promotion with Pepsi-Cola, Purchase, N.Y. Pathmark customers who purchased two Pepsi-Cola products with their Pathmark Advantage Club loyalty card were automatically entered into a contest for a chance to win a grand-prize trip to the Caribbean to watch the series, said Rich Savner, company spokesman. Other prizes, including baseball jackets and jerseys, were also given away.

Pathmark -- which operates stores in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware -- ran the promotion chainwide.

Savner called it a success, saying the chain received several thousand entries.

"From the customer's perspective, it was turnkey. There were no forms to fill out," Savner said. He noted that entry forms were available for customers who wanted to enter the contest, but did not have a PAC card.

The Caribbean campaign comes at a time when Hispanics have surpassed African Americans as the largest minority group -- making them a target for retailers and marketers alike.

Pathmark is well-known for its multicultural marketing efforts. Among other programs, it hosts the Pathmark Multicultural Arts Festival each year.

While the Caribbean campaign appealed to Pathmark's growing ethnic consumer base, it wasn't targeted only at Hispanics, Savner stressed.

"The fact that the grand prize was a trip to the Caribbean during the winter made the promotion appealing to all our customers," he said. "It embraced all ethnicities."

Pepsi-Cola has supported the series for the last three years, though this was the first year it has the involvement of big chains such as Pathmark, according to Lauren Scott, multicultural marketing manager, Pepsi-Cola.

Scott said Pathmark's involvement demonstrates how major retailers are broadening the scope of their multicultural programs.

"The fact that Pathmark was not only willing to participate in the program, but also to run it chainwide shows that we're moving to a multicultural society," Scott said.

R. Paniagua Inc., New York, the promotional media and special events company that handled the program, is now looking to get supermarket support of other Latino sporting events, including boxing and soccer, and perhaps even the Pan Am Games, according to Ralph Paniagua, company president.

"We're taking broadcast events and customizing them at retail to move [product] cases," he said.