In April 2013, Mariano’s, an upscale Roundy’s Banner in Wisconsin, had a great idea to promote fresh loose potatoes in their produce section—nearly life-sized potato wagons! A high-end retailer, Mariano’s mostly sells potatoes in bulk because they believe it makes their potatoes appear fresher to their shoppers.
Mariano’s approached the USPB regarding this concept, asking, “What can we do to attract shoppers to this kind of merchandising display?” In turn, the USPB reached out to the University of Wisconsin to see if any grad students would be interested in some weekend work. UW student Kyle Rak responded and soon was working the wagon potato displays for Mariano’s. For five hours on Saturdays and Sundays, “Ask Kyle” was a hit with potato shoppers. Kyle shared information, interacted with shoppers and answered questions about potatoes. In the first week alone, “Ask Kyle” helped increase potato sales by 17 percent.
This merchandising effort was well received by shoppers, and Mariano’s discovered how shoppers’ children loved the knee-high wagons and finding their own potatoes. Roundy’s is now planning a kids’ potato day and letting them pick their first pound of potatoes for free. This is just one more way Roundy’s has embraced improving the marketing of its potato category.