MONTVALE, N.J. -- A&P here is evaluating the effect of in-store television on alcoholic beverage sales.
The chain is currently testing a television monitor that runs a video of wine tips, sprinkled with commercials for beer, wine and spirits, in 32 of its freestanding liquor stores in New Jersey and Connecticut. The chain is also considering whether this marketing approach can be adapted to large beer, wine and liquor departments in its supermarkets.
"We like the benefits," an A&P official who did not wish to be identified told SN.
"You can [hone in on] a particular winemaker. You can do recipes. A lot of it is geared to the wine end and some of the upscale liquors and cordials," he said.
But the monitors also have drawbacks, the most outstanding one being the 27-inch screen, which can take up most of an endcap.
"Right now the monitors that we have are very large. We have to scale those down and use smaller ones for [in-store] departments," he said. The A&P official also noted that electronic equipment requires special installation, and it would not be that easy to remove the monitor at a later date.
The monitors were installed in the A&P liquor stores last Nov. 1, according to Jeffrey Pipes Guice, president of National Retail Liquor Network, Darien, Conn.
The monitors are run by the network in conjunction with Drink Magazine, a division of Gulfstream Publications, Mount Pleasant, S.C. A VCR tape runs a program called Drink Magazine TV, which contains four-minute interviews with winemakers in an "Entertainment Tonight"-like format, interspersed with commercials, primarily for spirits.
"Our goal is to bring the winemakers -- the Robert Mondavis of the world -- directly to the aisles so they can have a one-on-one conversation with the consumer," Guice said.
Initial advertisers include Brown Forman, Coors Brewing Co., Hiram Walker, United Distillers, Palace Brands, Paddington, Heublein and Seagram's.
"These are all of the biggest players in the industry. They jumped on board and thought it was a great opportunity, because it represented a chance to close the sales circle loop," said Guice. He noted that according to the Point-of-Purchase Advertising Institute, Washington, 70% of purchase decisions are made at the category in the store.
Guice said spirits and hard liquor advertising at the store level has a great effect, because those products are not advertised on TV in most markets. Commercials on the monitor are often those used in England or other English-speaking countries.
"With Bailey's we were able to get ads from other English- speaking countries and run them here. [They] capture consumers' attention because they are able to see ads which they had never seen before, and the ads have an English accent and British humor," Guice said.
Studies have shown that stores using the monitors saw sales of featured products increase anywhere from 4.8% to 27%, with an average increase of 9.4%, he added.
Guice said the monitors are installed at no cost to the retailer, but advertisers are charged $35 per store for a 28-day period, receiving one 30-second ad every half-hour.
Guice believes his units are more effective than traditional elaborate paper displays, which are often not put up or properly maintained, and which offer a shoplifter a convenient hiding place to slip a bottle into a coat.
One drawback of the monitors is that some store managers forgot to turn them on each morning, but Guice is hoping a timer being installed in new monitors will rectify that situation. He is also switching from a VCR tape to a DVD disc player, which will offer advertisers a continuous loop without down time while the tape rewinds.