Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mollie Stone's Markets' Owners' Eponymous Mike & Dave's Wing Sauce Grows Display Wings

Private Brand Showcase

Mike & Dave's Wing Sauce, the eponymous first-in-brand food product created and launched in May by Mike Stone and Dave Bennett, the co-owners of Mill Valley, California-based Mollie Stone's Markets, has sprouted wings of a display kind in one of the grocer's nine stores in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The attractive display (pictured above), in the Mollie Stone's supermarket in San Bruno near San Francisco, is all about summer - A big "wing-style" display of Mike & Dave's Wing Sauce, cross-merchandised with beer and displayed in front of the store's meat department, where the fresh chicken wings are available nearby.

And for many people, summertime and chicken wings go together like, well ... a chicken and its wings.

We wrote about the partner's new brand and first product in this May 16, 2011 story: Wing Man-to-Wing Man' - Mollie Stone's Markets' 'Mike & Dave' Create, Set to Launch 'Personal Brand' Wing Sauce

In addition to offering their wing sauce in the nine Mollie Stone's stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, Stone and Bennett, partners since 1987, are looking for distributors and retailers throughout the U.S. who are interested in taking the product on.

A management member of Unified Grocer's specialty and natural foods distribution division, who also happens to be regular reader of Fresh & Easy Buzz, recently told us the City of Commerce, (Southern) California-based cooperative, which is the largest grocery wholesaler in the Western U.S., is interested in distributing Mike & Dave's Wing Sauce to its chain and independent customers throughout the west.

Unified also has an office in Livermore, in Northern California, along with a distribution center in Stockton, as well as distribution facilities in the Pacific Northwest.

Mollie Stone's Markets is a longtime member of the Unified Grocers cooperative.

Left-to-Right: Partners and wingmen Dave Bennett and Mike Stone.
Strategy Session: Extending the Mike & Dave's brand

Every so often we offer retailers we write about a suggestion or two regarding their private brands - or in the case of Mike & Dave's Wing Sauce what we call a "personal brand." We call this aspect of Private Brand Showcase the "Strategy Session."

Here's our suggestion for the wingmen, Mike Stone and Dave Bennett, as it pertains to their Mike and Dave's Wing Sauce.

One of the hottest fresh-prepared foods items in grocery stores at present is fully-prepared (including the sauce) and cooked ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat chicken wings.

For example, Safeway Stores, which Mollie Stone's Markets competes against in the San Francisco Bay Area, offers a couple varieties of ready-to-eat wings under its Signature Cafe brand. The items are selling extremely well in the grocery chain's stores

Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market also recently introduces a couple varieties of wings to its stores,as we reported on and wrote about in this June 11, 2011 story: Sliders, Meatballs and More - Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Introducing Six New Heat & Serve Food Items.

Branding the products also adds value (which for a grocer means a higher gross margin), compared to merely offering the wings as generic prepared foods items. This is particularly true is one has a good hook on which to hang that branding. And we think Mike & Dave do - their "personal brand," Mike & Dave's Wing Sauce.

Our suggestion for the Mollie Stone's wingmen: Create a fully-prepared, ready-to-eat chicken wing item (SKU or two), using the Mike & Dave's Wing Sauce. Brand it as "Mike & Dave's Chicken Wings," using the same graphic design on the label as is on the shelf-stable wing sauce product label, and offer it for sale in the in-stores' deli-prepared foods departments. in the nine Mollie Stone's stores.

Mollie Stone's is well known in the Bay Area for its fresh-prepared foods offerings, so the item is a natural.

The wingmen can also use the ready-to-eat "Mike & Dave's Chicken Wings" product package, merchandised in the store deli departments, to cross-promote the shelf stable Mike & Dave's Wing Sauce, by simply putting a instantly redeemable (IRC) cents-off coupon (say for at least 50-cents) for the bottle of sauce on the outside of the packages. Or tuck a coupon inside to be used later by the customer after they eat the prepare wings. Or do both.

And in good wingman fashion, one hand helping the other, the bottles of Mike & Dave's Wing Sauce can also be used to promote the new ready-to-eat chicken wings under the brand by simply putting a coupon for the product in the deli case on the bottles, a sticker or bottle neck coupon) of the existing wing sauce.

Traditionally it's called cross-promotion or cross-couponing. But in this case we call it "Wingman product marketing." After all, products just like people, can always use a wingman.

Related Stories

Click on this link -  - for related stories about Mollie Stone's Markets.

Click here -  - for past stories in our Private Brand Showcase feature.

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