Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Integrated Retail & Twitter Wine Promotion Rates Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market A Gold Medal

Wine & Beer Category Report: News/Analysis/Commentary

Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market today launched a full-line-drive, mix and match wine category promotion in its 159 fresh food and grocery stores in California, southern Nevada and Metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona.

In the promotion, which runs from June 23 -to- July 6, 2010, customers get 20% off the total of any six or more bottles of wine they purchase.

Additionally, Fresh & Easy is giving away a reusable cotton wine bag with all single-customer wine purchases of $25 or more.

In and of itself there's nothing particularly unique or special about the promo as grocer wine category promotions go, although we like the free wine bag addition. It adds an additional layer to the promotion, beyond just the 20% price focus.

But Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is kicking off the wine promotion with a "Twitter Wine Tasting" this evening, starting at 7 pm pacific time.

This is the grocer's second such "Twitter Wine Tasting," in which participants purchase the wines to be tasted and pondered in the comfort of their homes at a Fresh & Easy store, and then share their questions, comments and evaluations on the various varieties of vino via

The first such tasting was on February 9 of this year. Read our story about Fresh & Easy's first "Twitter Wine Tasting" - February 8, 2010: 'I Taste Therefore I Tweet': Fresh & Easy Set to Hold 'Twitter (Wine) Tasting' Tomorrow Night.

Tonight's wine tippling tweeters will be tasting three of Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's proprietary wines. The three brands-varieties are: Napa Family Vineyards Chardonnay, which retails for under $12; The Vine Yard Late Harvest Riesling, which sells for under $8; and Re del Castello Chianti Classico, which goes for under $10 at Fresh & Easy Neighborhood market stores. Fresh & Easy is featuring two of the varieties, along with a few others, in its "Friends of Fresh & Easy" e-mail promo which it sent out late yesterday. That's what we call "positive, practical, promotional merchandising integration," or PPPMI for short. More on that concept a little later below.

In order to participate in the virtual wine tasting event (virtual on twitter but real at home) people with a Twitter account - those who don't already have one can create one in a couple minutes - simply sign up at Taste Live, send an RSVP here, buy the three wines at a Fresh & Easy store, and then log-in back at Taste Live, at 7 pm tonight.

According to the grocer, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market wine category manager Karen Fletcher will be tweeting, answering questions and following the tasters' evaluations at its account - @fresh_and_easy - starting at 7 pm. The tippling tweeters need only to use the Twitter hashtag #FreshEasyWines in order to be able to view the wine tweets of their fellow tasters on Twitter tonight.

Positive, practical, promotional merchandising integration

As regular Fresh & Easy Buzz readers are aware - and non-regular readers of the blog will soon become aware of - we're big advocates of integrated promotions that tie-in what happens on the store floor (merchandising and promotional merchandising) with various forms of media, particularly forms of interactive social media like Twitter, Facebook and the like.

We've been suggesting to Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market in our strategy session-oriented posts since about mid-2008 that the grocer needs to focus much more on doing integrated promotions across all categories. One of the Fresh & Easy's problems or challenges, in our analysis, has been a failure to integrate; to use multiple platforms, integrating on the store floor merchandising with various forms of media. For example, we liked this recent promotion at Fresh & Easy. But the grocer failed to take it beyond the stores; to integrate it with other media in a meaningful and significant way.

Merchandising and media-related promotions such as the wine promotion-twitter event, which tie-in the stores and the larger consumer world, are something Fresh & Easy needs to do more regularly in order to create excitement, drive sales into the stores, build brand, and create new, much-needed customers.

In terms of the various categories, in our analysis the best merchandising and promotional activity Fresh & Easy has done thus far is in the wine category.

Wine category manager Karen Fletcher has been in her position at Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market from the very beginning. Therefore we give her the primary credit for this development.
Fresh & Easy's wine and beer category has flipped-flopped between the directors of the grocer's two buying and merchandising departments, fresh and grocery - and not totally against Ms. Fletcher's objection - three times since 2007.

The wine and beer category was originally (and logically) under the grocery department. But it later was moved to the fresh department for internal reasons. Then in the summer of 2008 the category was switched back to grocery, under the supervision of Sean McCurley, who made a lateral move at the time from director of fresh foods to grocery director - and who recently returned to Tesco in the UK - replacing Charlotte Maxwell, who departed Fresh & Easy to return to Tesco in the UK, which she left the employ of shortly after. (Yes, Sean McCurley and Karen Fletcher had a strong working relationship. They both also came to Fresh & Easy from Tesco in the UK.)

Tweet, drink and be merry

While a Twitter-based wine tasting doesn't have the glamour and excitement of a live tasting, say at a Napa Valley winery, it certainly offers some advantages. Among those advantages include: being able to dress comfortably - although we don't want to hear about participants wearing boxer shorts or old sweat pants while wine tasting and tweeting tonight - relaxing on your couch at home with a laptop computer nestled close by or a smart phone in hand, and being able to stock the fridge with one's own choice of foods to cleanse the palate between bottles of wine.

From a marketing and merchandising standpoint for Fresh & Easy the tasting offers the grocer a chance to get people into the stores to purchase the three bottles of wine, and then hopefully buy additional food and grocery items. But much more than that, as we said earlier, it integrates what is happening at retail - the June 23 -to- July 6 wine promotion - with a wider social media-based promotion, thereby helping over time (with repetition and other different integrated promotions added on) to create a story around the wine category at Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market.

Doing this - integrating what goes happens on the store floor with media promotions and events - and doing it regularly, comprehensively and in a creative yet practical manner (need to sell product as well as create buzz) is what good merchandising and promotions are all about, as in creating and telling a good story, which in many ways is the essence of a potentially successful marketing campaign.

Salute! In 140 characters or less of course.

Readers: Click here to read a selection of past posts in Fresh & Easy Buzz on wine category merchandising and related topics.

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