Apparently it’s in to “go organic” —or at least that would be the logical conclusion based on the growing number of supermarkets participating in Go Organic! for Earth Day this month, an educational/promotional campaign back for its fourth year.
In 2008, six new Kroger divisions will participate for the first time in the campaign, including King Sooper’s/City Market, Dillons/Gerbes/Bakers, and Smith’s. They join leading retailers such as Supervalu, Publix, Food Lion’s banner Bloom, Bi-Lo, Wakefern’s ShopRite, Price Chopper, Giant Food Stores, and many more. In total, over 3,500 grocery stores across the country are expected to participate, according to campaign organizers.
These grocers will feature special displays, POP tools, coupon books, and plenty of specials on organics in their stores during the month. The initiatives are being funded in many cases through the support of 20 leading organic food manufacturers underwriting the campaign.
The Organic Trade Association, Earth Day Network, and MusicMatters, a marketing agency specializing in campaigns, developed Go Organic! to promote organic items during April, since Earth Day occurs every April 22.
Retailers’ reasons for participating in the campaign vary, but most agree it’s a natural tie-in with their efforts to sell more organic foods and promote their own internal sustainability initiatives.
“Supporting Go Organic! for Earth Day is another way in which we support the environment,” explains Maria Brous, director of community and media relations for Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets. “We are able to offer our customers products at a savings; provide coupons and information on health, wellness, and nutrition; and incorporate healthier and lighter recipes into our Apron’s Simple Meals program.”
Karen Meleta, spokeswoman for Wakefern Food Corp. in Elizabeth, N.J., observes that “the concern today is really sustainability. Since Earth Day is about the environment, and organic products are grown in a sustainable manner, there’s a connection there.”
At United Supermarkets, a regional chain based in Lubbock, Texas, Go Organic! is “an eye-opener for team members,” says Suman Lawrence, natural/organic business manager for the retailer’s Living Well program.
United has a successful track record with the campaign: Last year its Market Street banner took the top prize in the campaign’s display contest.
This year the retailer has 15 stores participating in Go Organic! In addition, on April 19 the chain will dedicate its “Expo Saturday” to Earth Day. “We’ll be featuring samples from some of the campaign sponsors,” notes Lawrence.
Another chain in the Southeast, Richmond, Va.-based Ukrop’s Super Markets, supports the campaign “to show our partnerships with key brands,” explains Julie Bishop, manager of culinary and wellness trends.
“The program includes great training materials for our associates, as well as coupons that provide valuable savings. The coupons help to increase brand awareness and provide savings on items that might not be promoted regularly or deep-discounted that often,” she says.
While retailers were hesitant to share specific sales numbers tied to the campaign, the campaign’s organizers cite data from SPINS showing that during the April 2007 campaign period, retailers that sold Go Organic!-sponsored products generated a sales increase 10.6 times that of retailers that didn’t participate in the program.
The campaign’s organizers have added many new elements based on feedback from participants in last year’s initiative, notes Todd Troha, general manager at Minneapolis-based MusicMatters.
“This year we went to a much nicer format for the coupon book, and increased the value. The coupons present over 50 percent more value than the coupons from last year,” Troha notes. “Another new feature is a high-impact, flexible floorstand display that will draw consumers’ attention as they enter the store.”
In addition, the campaign POS materials have been redesigned to have a higher impact on the shelf, says Troha.
For consumers, the latest Go Organic! for Earth Day features several new promotions. They can enter to win a free Bed & Breakfast Getaway to Sanford Inn by the Sea in California, or they can go for the Grocery Makeover Contest with Mom-a-licious cookbook author Domenica Catelli.