For the fifth year running, Progressive Grocer magazine, a nationally acclaimed grocery and supermarket trade publication, has recognized the United States Potato Board’s Retail Marketing Program with a 2008 “Category Captain,” award in the Perimeter: Fixed/Variable Produce group.
Since 2004, the USPB has worked with retailers to implement and refine the Best-In-Class (BIC) Program. The goal of this category development program is to enhance the potato shopping experience, thereby boosting sales and profits throughout the supply chain.
Successfully implemented, chain-wide, with three retailers, the program has resulted in increased sales.
With consumer trends shifting toward smaller households, and the demand for new convenient products, potatoes have seen historical declines and have been challenged to remain competitive and relevant.
The longevity and success of the BIC program has been recognized as a significant achievement based on these trends.
The Best-In-Class program provides step-by-step recommendations to promote potatoes in a way that is aligned with how consumers shop the category.
Recommendations are provided on how potatoes should be merchandised, promoted and priced to improve the shopping experience.
In 2007, the USPB developed the Best-in-Class Fast Track Program. Fast Track enables retailers to test the program in a subset of stores, over an abbreviated time period.
This program also facilitates the USPB increasing the depth and breadth of practices with a larger set of retailers.
During the winter of 2007, the program was implemented with five retailers across the United States, impacting over 100 stores.
Combined with the Best-In-Class Program, the USPB is now working with the majority of large retailers across the nation.
The objective of the Fast Track program is to grow the category at test stores through the implementation of assortment, merchandising, pricing and promotional best practices.
Upon successful completion of the Fast Track, the next step is for retailers and suppliers to implement the best practices chain-wide.
The potential impact across the five retailers is seen as significant, with the opportunity to implement USPB Best Practices (BPs) at over 2,500 stores nationwide.
At the beginning of each program, a category review was conducted for the retailer to understand the performance of the potato category relative to their competitive market.
USPB provided recommendations for the retailer’s merchandising, assortment, pricing and promotional strategies that will be implemented during the test.
Assortment is a critical component of this test.
This year, emphasis was placed on new and innovative products that have entered the category.
These have included smaller package sizes intended for a single meal, as well as value-added, “steamable” products. These products were introduced to retailers with supporting signage, ad calendars and price recommendations.
Merchandising recommendations were provided utilizing demographics and plan-o-grams to align with consumer segments.
The new USPB campaign signature “Potatoes … Goodness Unearthed” was displayed in over 100 stores during the tests to promote the key messages of nutrition and convenience.
Further promotional and pricing recommendations gave retailers direction on how to best promote their assortments. Sample ads utilizing convenience recipes tied to the product assortments were also provided.
Weekly audits and sales analyses assessed performance across the 12-week test.
INNOVATION IN THE INDUSTRY
The USPB continued its supplier education program with a product development training meeting to encourage and educate suppliers on how to develop their categories in the future.
An interactive training session instructed suppliers on effective product development strategies and tactics in the perishables space.
Using case studies from the industry and outside the category, the session provided a toolkit to assist suppliers with key activities, from concept development to store testing and product rollout.
“Category Captain” is not just a Progressive Grocer award, but an industry award based on retailer surveys and financials, demonstrating the outstanding success of the USPB Retail Program to help retailers and their suppliers reconnect potatoes to today’s consumer.
Progressive Grocer will provide the USPB with a wide array of communications tools to inform the grocery industry of this honor presented to the USPB Retail Marketing Program.
For more information on the USPB Retail Marketing Program, contact Carroll Graham, USPB director of retail programs, at 303-369-7783 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.