Convenience / Discount / Channels / Mass Merchandisers

Focus on Digital: Madness Can Be a Sane Choice For Engaging Promotions

March 1, 2014
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As we escape the cold, wintery doldrums of February, March brings the promise of spring, warmer weather and the unshakable grip of one of America’s greatest pastimes: the office March Madness pool. Surveys estimate that close to 60 percent of working Americans will participate in an office basketball pool this year (costing employers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost wages to distracted workers). Advertisers have always gotten in on “the game.” Notably, 275 different brands advertised during March Madness over a 10-year span.

Sports fever is hardly a seasonal ailment. In part due to office leagues, fantasy sports—most prominently football—engage 32 million Americans who have helped create a $1.7 billion industry.

Wawa leads the pack in NCAA basketball-themed promotions with their “Parched Madness” competition. They create a 16 “team” bracket of private label teas and drinks, and ask fans to vote for their favorites. After their Lemonade Tea won the “Final Pour,” the chain offered a $2-for-2 special on all of their private label beverages.

Casey’s promoted a “Casey’s Madness” tournament where 64 fan videos extolling customers’ love for the store’s products were placed in a bracket, where fans voted for a winner through a custom Facebook application. The store still features many of the videos on their YouTube page. C-Store chain Nice N Easy’s “Snack Madness” campaign lets customers vote on their favorite treats in a similar fashion.

Retailers are partnering with national brands to create unique fantasy football-like promotions during the NFL season. Promotions from Winn-Dixie, Meijer and others reward shoppers with valuable offers when they pick a team that rushes for more than 120 yards, or the quarterback that has the most passing yards during Monday Night Football. Exploring similar promotions with store brands could reap significant rewards for creative marketers.

A&P leveraged the excitement of the NFL playoffs with their “Big Game Rewards” program. Enrolled customers earned bonus points for purchasing special products, which can be traded for prizes and special offers. Jewel-Osco stores gave shoppers 10 percent off their grocery bill when they shopped in a Chicago Bears team jersey on game day.

 America’s passion for sports teams and sporting events provides a great template for marketers to engage consumers around their brands. More importantly, they provide simple, affordable and fun opportunities to promote private label products. 

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