Saturday, June 18, 2011

Editorial: How Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market CEO Tim Mason Can Fix the 'Side by Side' Wine Promotion FUBAR

Displays of "Side by Side" wines, like the one pictured in the photograph above which was taken in a Fresh & Easy market in Southern California on June 16, are now being built in the grocer's stores.

Standing 'Side by Side'

On May 24, 2011 Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market advertised a new wine brand - "Side by Side" - in two varieties - Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay - for $5.99 bottle, in its "friends of fresh & easy" promotional flyer (view here), which is e-mailed to customers who sign up for the "friends" program.

As part of the promotion - which hasn't happened until now because there hasn't been any "Side by Side" wine in the stores - Fresh & Easy is donating $1 for each bottle of wine sold to the Azalea Charities' "Aid For Wounded Warriors" program.

On May 25 we wrote this story - 'Side by Side': Wine at Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Aids America's Wounded Warriors - about the new wine brand and the promotion, which was targeted to begin on May 24-25, leading up to the Memorial Day weekend and holiday, the following Monday, May 30.

Beginning two days after we published our story, it started getting comments (see here) from readers saying they couldn't find the "Side by Side" wines in Fresh & Easy stores.

After getting a few such comments, we checked the situation out and couldn't find the wine in any of the stores we called or checked on in person.

We also put out a message to the numerous Fresh & Easy store workers who read the blog, asking them about the availability of the "Side by Side" wine with the donation to the wounded warriors' program. Not one of the employees had even heard about the wine brand, telling us it wasn't in the stores where they work.

Over the Memorial Day weekend Fresh & Easy Buzz correspondents checked numerous additional Fresh & Easy stores in California, Nevada and Arizona. No "Side by Side" wine in any of the grocery stores.

Memorial Day came and went and none of the 175 Fresh & Easy stores had the "Side by Side" wine in stock."

In fact, it wasn't until Tuesday (June 14) or Wednesday (June 15) that the first stores started receiving the wine, which is three weeks after Fresh & Easy advertised it in the May 24 "friends of fresh & easy" e-mailer.

We got a heads up from a good source on June 16 that the "Side by Side" wine was being shipped to the stores.

We checked a number of stores on Thursday and today, and all of them we checked had the wine, featured in the stores' wine departments on tower displays like the one at top, which is in a Southern California Fresh & Easy grocery market.

We aren't going to go into the details of what we've learned about the screw up because it doesn't make all that exciting of reading.

But its safe to say Fresh & Easy's corporate marketing and buying departments committed what the U.S. Military, which created the term, and others call a FUBAR.

A grocer shouldn't advertise a product, particularly when its one being promoted as a way to help wounded warriors, unless it has the product in the stores.

Such things can happen, of course. And if it was two or three days between the time the advertisement came out and the product hit the stores it wouldn't be a FUBAR. Instead it would be a mistake of a lessor magnitude.

But that's not the case. It's been three weeks from the time Fresh & Easy advertised the "Side by Side" wine and the product is starting to arrive in the stores.

Had the "Side by Side" wine been available during the week leading up to Memorial Day when it was advertised, we suspect shoppers, seeing that $1 a bottle is being donated to the wounded warriors' charitable organization, would have, because military service members are very top-of-mind leading up to Memorial Day, bought a considerable amount of the wine as a way to do their part to help the cause and wounded warriors, while at the same time getting some wine for the three day weekend.

The "Side by Side" wine is now available, at least in the stores we've checked and verified. That's good news in terms of its starting to generate some donation money via sales for the Azalea Charities' "Aid For Wounded Warriors" program.

But the non-profit group that helps wounded warriors and their families is out three weeks' worth of donations from sales of the wine because of Fresh & Easy's corporate headquarters FUBAR.

Therefore, we suggest Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's CEO, Tim Mason, who's also the deputy CEO of Tesco and its chief marketing officer, make things right by making a donation in the name of Fresh & Easy to the Azalea Charities' "Aid For Wounded Warriors" program.

We think a corporate donation of about $3,000 would be fair to make up for the three weeks' of lost sales between the time (May 24, 2011) the "Side by Side" wine was first advertised in the "friends of fresh & easy" e-mailer and this week, when the wine finally started arriving in the stores.

Why $3,000? It represents average sales of 5-6 bottles of "Side by Side" wine per-store, per-week between May 24 and June 15, which we think is a fair average sales assumption, considering it's likely sales of the wine would have been brisk from May 24-May 30, had it been in stores that week leading up to Memorial Day, which was May 30.

Mr. Mason might also suggest to the senior executives responsible for the "Side by Side" wine FUBAR that they reach into their pockets and pony up a donation of $100 or more to the good folks at the organization that helps wounded warriors. If they do so, they'll remember next time to be bit more careful and not advertise a product that's not available to ship to the stores until three weeks later. In fact, as CEO Mason could set an example for them by making a similar donation out of his pocket to the Azalea Charities' "Aid For Wounded Warriors" program.

Making the 3,000 corporate donation would be a good way for Mason and Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market to demonstrate it's standing "Side by Side" with the Azalea Charities' "Aid For Wounded Warriors" program and the wounded warriors' and their families the no-profit organization helps.

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