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MELROSE PARK, Ill. (FNS) -- Jewel-Osco here is targeting Chicago's large Latino population by pairing an aggressive advertising campaign with an increased assortment of ethnic products on its store shelves.The local program has national roots. According to Mike Spinozzi, senior vice president, marketing, Jewel consulted with other divisions of Albertson's, Jewel's Boise, Idaho-based parent company,

MELROSE PARK, Ill. (FNS) -- Jewel-Osco here is targeting Chicago's large Latino population by pairing an aggressive advertising campaign with an increased assortment of ethnic products on its store shelves.

The local program has national roots. According to Mike Spinozzi, senior vice president, marketing, Jewel consulted with other divisions of Albertson's, Jewel's Boise, Idaho-based parent company, particularly those in Texas and southern California, when it was developing this latest campaign.

Executives in Texas "advised us on general merchandise and some grocery categories and helped with some vendor connections," as well as commenting on the promotional campaign and advertising strategies, he noted.

But, Spinozzi emphasized, Jewel's program is not a "cookie-cutter" version of efforts in other Albertson's chains, but reflects the needs and desires of the market here.

"Mas y mas Frescura Latina" -- more and more Latino Freshness -- is the tagline for the ad campaign, which stresses not only the increase in specialty products in the produce, meat and other fresh foods sections, but the fact that Jewel supermarkets now carry "more and more" brands and varieties of grocery and non-food products found in Latin American countries, and particularly in Mexico.

The media campaign, said Spinozzi, "is an external reflection of the work we have done internally for some time. Jewel has been participating in programs in the Latino community for many, many years."

The new effort is "an opportunity to address the largest and fastest-growing" ethnic community in the Midwest market, he noted. The Latino population in Chicago is about 1.4 million.

The chain identified about 50 of its 190 Jewel-Osco food and drug combination stores (there are also 84 freestanding Osco drug stores) that have a Latino population of at least 10% in their market area.

While the assortments in those 50 stores have been particularly beefed up, the additional products Jewel has brought in are available to the entire chain, and most of its stores have added at least some of the Latino items.

"A lot of items that had been considered specialty products are now attracting a broader audience with the increased interest in Latino cuisine" in the population as a whole, Spinozzi noted.

"We did an analysis of the stores' potential by demographics," and have various tiers of these product offerings, he said, with the most items at the stores showing the largest Latino populations in their trading areas.

In early November, Jewel launched its Frescura Latina advertising campaign in the region's Spanish-language media.

The Latino campaign theme plays off of Jewel's overall advertising message, "Fresh to your family from Jewel," but emphasizes the Latino customer can "get the unique items traditional to your culture at Jewel," said Joseph Nebolsky de Ochoa, vice president and chief operating officer of Sanchez & Associates, a Chicago marketing communications firm and advertising agency specializing in Spanish-speaking markets.

The agency pointed out the Jewel advertising campaign is the first by a leading supermarket chain to promote the array of Latino items in its stores, a challenge to the neighborhood independent markets that have catered to the Latino community in the past.

"It is monumental for a grocery chain of this size to make that kind of commitment," said Nebolsky de Ochoa.

Television ads are the centerpiece of the campaign. The ads feature a charro, a traditional Mexican singer with a sombrero, in a Jewel supermarket and emphasize that the chain now carries all the ingredients necessary "for your cooking."

The 30-second television spots started with an image campaign to convey Jewel's commitment to the Latino market and to carrying a broad array of products, and will continue as a 52-week campaign featuring an item and price special each week along with the variety theme. Those ads are running on Univision and Telemundo Spanish-language cable channels.

Radio is "a strong No. 2 medium," said Nebolsky de Ochoa, with both an image and an item-price pitch underscored by the Mexican theme music from the TV spots. Those are running on four different Chicago-area radio stations.

In addition, he noted, Jewel is running outdoor advertising using billboards and mass transit ads. Print ads are running in Spanish-language newspapers, and Jewel is doing supplements featuring many of the new items to be distributed with the chain's weekly fliers in ethnic neighborhoods, said Nebolsky de Ochoa.

The early response to the advertising campaign "has been very positive. We think the customer has noticed the campaign and the increased visibility given to these products," said Spinozzi.

"From a category perspective, the new items are performing well. We also seeing increased store traffic and increased average purchase size" in the stores being targeted in this campaign, he commented.

The greatest number of new products has been in the grocery section because of the size of the department, Spinozzi said, but the general merchandise section has also added products targeting the Latino community, including magazines and greeting cards as well as brands of toiletries and hosier. The number of produce items and specific cuts of meat that are widely used in Latino cooking has also been increased.

Many of these products are being imported from Latin American countries through local brokers, he noted.

Spinozzi noted that Jewel's efforts to reach the Latino community have been "in place a long time, but the effort aligns perfectly with Albertson's neighborhood marketing focus, to serve the unique needs of individual neighborhoods."

Chicago's Latino population is about 65% to 70% Mexican, followed by a Puerto Rican component, then a much smaller segment from a variety of Central American countries. Nebolsky de Ochoa emphasized that, while the central character in the commercials is Mexican, the campaign aims to be as culturally neutral as possible, referring to cocina Latina or Latin cooking. One spot specifically states that Jewel carries the ingredients needed "for your cooking," whether you are from "Tampico, Yucatan or [the] Caribbean." And in canned goods, the chain carries both the La Preferida brand aimed at the Mexican community and Goya products targeting the Caribbean population, as well as a number of brands popular in the home countries of the Latino community.

At the store level, Jewel uses bilingual signage for these new products, and has run sampling demonstrations as they were introduced. Shelf talkers and end-aisle displays have also been used to introduce new items, and the TV spots are played on in-store monitors.

"We have made an effort to increase our bilingual staff, especially in top-tier stores" with large Latino populations, said Spinozzi.

The chain also participates in community events such as health fairs and in celebrations of Latino holidays.

Jewel has also traditionally been involved in community projects in Chicago's African-American community, Spinozzi said, and is expanding its marketing to other ethnic groups in stores where those groups are a significant portion of the target market.

For example, he noted Jewel has made a similar, if smaller, effort in stores with a large Polish population base, increasing the amounts of Polish specialty items carried and offering bilingual signs.

In its Latino program, the next steps are to "continue to learn from the results, to monitor the research and to work with Sanchez & Associates" to update the advertising, said Spinozzi.