Kids aren't the only ones dusting off their thinking caps this back-to-school season. Food retailers are likewise getting into the spirit by devising crafty plans for capitalizing on this lucrative time of year.
Efforts enlisting participation from local schools seem especially clever. Some even center on lessons with potential to become part of the curriculum.
Take, for instance, an ingenious plan being considered by C&K Market, Brookings, Ore. (see story on Page 29). It's tossing around the idea of turning its environmental rewards loyalty program into a student competition.
Here's how it works: Shoppers who use their reusable bags rather than plastic earn an EcoUnit credit for each bag. Credits can be “spent” on projects like tree planting. The student with the most credits (the environment and C&K Market) wins.
Deciding to get kids involved in this type of project seems like a no-brainer. In fact, marketers would be hard-pressed to find a more effective tool than a persistent child advocating for something they've learned the importance of at school. Not only would bringing reusable bags be drilled into mom's subconscious, so would shopping C&K Market.
But it doesn't take the adoption of an entirely new program to keep parents of school-age kids shopping your store.
The Kroger Co. recently extended into the upcoming school year a new spin on Campbell's 36-year old Labels for Education program.
Since its inception, it's required that parents hoping to help their child's school earn supplies, save and send UPC codes from the labels of participating Campbell's products.
But in this day and age, label clipping is antiquated and inconvenient, and since it's easy to forget — an ineffective sales driver.
It also doesn't necessarily benefit specific retailers. The cause marketing program is Campbell's, so it doesn't steer mom to a particular chain.
Enter Kroger's E-labels for Education program, which allows Kroger shoppers to register their loyalty card number at elabelsforeducation.com, and enroll their child's school in the Campbell's program.
From then on credits are automatically applied to their school's account when an eligible purchase is made with the loyalty card.
Smart, if you ask me, since no other chain is offering it.
Kroger's sales of Campbell's products have likely increased as a result, especially since more than one-third of the 100,000 Kroger shoppers who signed up for the online program never sent UPC codes as part of the offline program.
Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets has also improved on its Shop for Schools program, which allows registered schools to receive $1 cash donations for each $20 spent at their local store.
The chain moves to the head of the class for extending its run through Dec. 31, and adding a shopping night where schools can earn 5% of all that's sold.
Moves like these not only help schools manage dwindling budgets, but leave a big impression on little ones with growing spending potential.
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The consumer receives a unique PIN code at the point of purchase. They register the PIN code on an online form, and their EcoUnit account is automatically updated with the appropriate number of credits.
This will give shoppers an opportunity to earn a large number of EcoUnit credits in a single transaction. It will potentially be enough to have one tree planted with each trip to the store, according to Ragen.
It will benefit C&K by encouraging more green purchases.
Along with helping environmental programs, the model encourages shoppers to start using reusable shopping bags and use them more often.
“People are certainly using reusable shopping bags more often, but it's not a habit. People haven't made it part of their everyday life,” Ragen said. “This program gives them an extra little nudge.”