• Kraft Foods is working with independent operators and their wholesalers to design programs to fit specific needs in specific neighborhoods.
• The company is urging other vendors to work with the independent channel — by sharing information on the overall marketplace in which they operate — because of the mutual benefits that can result.
Independent operators, often ignored by large suppliers, have a friend at Kraft Foods, industry executives told SN.
“Independents could not ask for a stronger partner relationship than Kraft offers,” Peter Larkin, president and chief executive officer of the National Grocers Association, said. “Kraft understands the independent grocer and the wholesalers that serve them and constantly strives to find ways to support them in the marketplace.”
Joseph Sheridan, president and CEO of Wakefern Food Corp., said Kraft has always been available to retailers at the local level.
“If you look at its portfolio of goods, they are products that are geared to sell in a grocery store more so than in other classes of trade,” he pointed out. “They are food products made by a company that is geared to food, rather than food and chemicals like some other manufacturers.
“So Kraft knows the grocery business, and given its insights and marketing expertise, Kraft understands what local marketing is about.”
Lisa Sheffield, senior category buyer for Niemann Foods Inc., said Kraft “is second to none. They always come to the table, and they are one of the best partners you could ask for as an independent.
“They know our stores are not big boxes and that we need every edge we can get, and they are always willing to partner with us and try new things.”
Read more about SN's Supplier Leadership Award winners
NFI gave Kraft its 2012 award for “best collaboration effort” because of its increased support for exclusive promotions and events; its flexible promotional support and planning; and its support of digital marketing programs — as well as its willingness to allocate resources to help NFI plan and execute a series of category management initiatives, Rich Niemann Jr., president and CEO, told SN.
In accepting NFI’s award, Ray Burnett, customer business lead for Kraft, urged other vendors to share information with independent operators — “not just about their stores, but about the marketplace, regarding category information and consumer trend information.
“Be fact-based and objective in what you are sharing because they are listening, and they are sharing their information to work toward a mutual benefit.”
Burnett said any vendors who are not already involved in NFI’s efforts to move to category management should get involved “[because] a stronger, successful Niemann’s is good for all of our businesses, and all of us can contribute to that success.”
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Programs involving Kraft and NFI this year have included:
• “Brand for Bucks,” a private-label promotion in which customers registered for home visits by NFI representatives, who paid them $100 for every private-label item they found. Kraft offered to partner with NFI by adding a bonus of $100 per item of Kraft products in the home, noted Sheffield.
• “Meal Solutions,” in which NFI features a weekly recipe in its ads and displays all recipe components in a single end display. Each recipe contains at least one Kraft item “because Kraft understood what we were trying to do and gave us portable coolers that allow us to build displays with refrigerated goods and groceries on any end in the store,” Owen Miller, the chain’s senior director of center store operations, said.
Since the promotion started in early August, Kraft has offered even larger display cases “that enable us to merchandise along the sides and with adjacencies,” Miller added.
Sheffield said the promotion also included a sandwich program in which Kraft approached the chain “at the last minute to include several strong in-ad coupons for items like Miracle Whip, Oscar Mayer luncheon meats, Claussen pickles and mustard.”
As a result of Kraft’s support, Niemann said Kraft product sales increased 4% last year and units rose 8%.
Speaking for Wakefern’s ShopRite operators, Sheridan said, “Kraft designs programs specifically for our members’ stores that allow us to be unique, including programs in print, digital and in-store execution that allow each store to go where it wants to go.”
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Sheridan cited three digital programs on which Kraft collaborated:
• “Munch Mania” — a program in which ShopRite customers were able to download digital coupons for free Kraft “munchies,” plus the chance to win an 80-inch LCD flat-screen television set. Of nearly 4,000 coupons clipped, nearly 1,500 were redeemed — a 37% redemption rate.
• A gas promotion in which customers earned a $25 gas card for spending $75 over a three-week period on participating brands from Kraft, Procter & Gamble and Unilever.
• “Tasty Tailgates,” a program that enabled ShopRite customers to download over $12 in Kraft coupons to their Price Plus club card.
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