RISER REAPS SALES HIKE FROM PIE LINE UPGRADE

BEDFORD HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Riser Foods here sent pie sales soaring this Thanksgiving with a judiciously timed upgrading of its program.Riser deliberately scheduled the launch of a new, all-natural fruit pie line for Nov. 15, to tap into shoppers' holiday-mood impulse buying.The ploy worked, Riser officials said. Fruit pie sales during Thanksgiving week rose 20% over the same period last year. At the

BEDFORD HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Riser Foods here sent pie sales soaring this Thanksgiving with a judiciously timed upgrading of its program.

Riser deliberately scheduled the launch of a new, all-natural fruit pie line for Nov. 15, to tap into shoppers' holiday-mood impulse buying.

The ploy worked, Riser officials said. Fruit pie sales during Thanksgiving week rose 20% over the same period last year. At the same time, pumpkin pie sales rose 10% and total bakery sales were up significantly from a year earlier, they added.

Fred DiQuattro, director of bakery, deli and seafood, credited the quality of the upscale, bake-off fruit pie line, plus the fanfare that surrounded its send-off, with driving sales of pumpkin as well as fruit pies.

"Demonstrations, sampling, announcements over stores' public address systems and huge displays -- right up front in some stores -- created a lot of activity and attracted customers' attention," said DiQuattro.

"I think some customers picked up a fruit pie and then saw the pumpkin and bought one of them, too, or the other way around. It wasn't a matter of the new one eating into pumpkin pie sales at all," he added.

The chain dedicated 3x4 tables for display of the product in all its stores. In some, two 4x4 slant tables were used back to back, DiQuattro said.

Coupons were included in a quarter-page ad in the chain's circular for the week of Nov. 15. One coupon offered $1 off on a 9-inch pie and another offered 50 cents off on the purchase of an 8-inch product.

"We also cut out the ad and put it in an acrylic stand on top of the counter [in the service bakery]," DiQuattro said, adding that technique has proved itself an effective merchandising tool.

The new pie line replaces a previous bake-off line. Retail prices will remain the same as for the former products, which DiQuattro said were not as upscale.

"We don't get as big a margin on these because they do cost us a little more, but the volume is tremendous. It makes it worth it. One of our lower volume stores sold 400 of these pies Thanksgiving week. That's compared to maybe 100 fruit pies in previous years," DiQuattro explained.