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RETAIL VIEW: Firm facilitates retail promotions for shippers

For the fourth year in a row, Consumer Effects Inc. in Sacramento, CA, is partnering with a major retailer, a children's network and multiple shippers to hold a nationwide healthy-eating campaign promoting fresh produce to kids.

The Good-to-Grow campaign kicked off in August and will last the entire month featuring point-of-sale material, demonstrations, in- store radio and many other events as it encourages children to eat more fruits and vegetables. More than 1,100 SuperValu stores, including Albertson's, Acme, Jewel-Osco and Shaw's, are participating in the promotion.

Stephanie Smith, marketing promotions manager for Consumer Effects, explained that the firm is a marketing company that works with retailers to develop cost-effective promotional campaigns focused on driving the consumption of fruit and vegetables in the marketplace.

Besides the healthy-eating campaign for kids, Consumer Effects is involved in many national and regional marketing campaigns throughout the year with many different retailers. Virtually all the promotions are themed; some are community-related such as the Good-to-Grow campaign, others are more commercially oriented such as promotions revolving around a meal-solution theme. What they each have in common is that this third-party marketing firm works exclusively with produce, connecting retailers and shippers in these promotions.

Ms. Smith said that there are a few other companies that offer a similar service but they are few and far between, and most deal with the center of the store rather than the produce department.

"There are a number of advertising agencies that will come up with promotion concepts [for retailers], but what makes us unique is that we are involved in the planning and also follow through to implementation," said Ms. Smith.

Consumer Effects makes sure that the individual stores are participating in the campaign and are properly displaying the point-of-sale materials and signage. Consumer Effects also signs up the produce partners, using the retailer's list of suppliers. Each produce participant pays a fee to the marketing firm to be involved and then deals directly with the retailer on the supplying and pricing of the product, as well as any special promotions that they might run during the length of the campaign.

Ms. Smith said that there is an ad support budget as part of the promotion allowing for advertising through the store's regular venue, be it direct mail or newspaper advertising.

She said that most of the promotions ideas are hatched by the Consumer Effects team playing off specific retailer initiatives, such as appealing to children or launching a meal-solution section within their produce departments. The ideas are then presented to retailers, who Ms. Smith said are generally very receptive to marketing approaches designed to improve consumption and sales of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Good to Grow campaign has many different components and 16 produce partners: Fresh Express, Sunripe, DNE World Fruit Sales, Mann Packing, Mariani Premium, the California Avocado Commission, the California Table Grape Commission, Chiquita Fruit Bites, Del Monte, Dulcinea, Fresh Gourmet Premium Croutons, the National Watermelon Promotion Board, Monterey Mushrooms, Fowler Packing, Delano Farms and Four Star Fruit.

Throughout August, the participating SuperValu stores will feature Paz, a penguin character from the "Ready Set Learn!" pre-school programming block that airs weekdays on TLC and the Discovery Kids Channel, and his friends. Paz is highlighted on colorful in- store displays, in-store radio and a 32-page recipe and kids activity booklet.

Each produce partner has signage identifying its products as participants in the promotion. In addition, many of the individual retail stores will have special events throughout the month including a few stores featuring a special appearance by Paz himself and the Magic School Bus, another kids' favorite.

Ms. Smith said that 290 stores will have a demo with 10 others having a special larger event encompassing more elements of the promotion, including a kickoff event that was held Aug. 12 in Boston. In-store radio advertising will run in most of the stores through the life of the campaign.

New to the program this year is an interactive web site, www.good- to-grow.com, which provides kids, parents and daycare providers with a number of resources to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption, including interactive video games, kid-friendly recipes and lesson plans. Special mailers were sent to 18,000 day care centers around the country alerting them to this promotion and the opportunity for kids to get involved and use the lesson plans available on the web site.

For the previous three years, Consumer Effects ran a similar promotion specifically with Albertson's before the retailer was bought by SuperValu. This is a continuation of that program which was previously known as the "Wacky Days of Summer."