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An encouraging sign in the continuing development of center store is the many ways in which the section is embracing technology. One particularly innovative concept was Campbell’s reworking of its long-running “Labels for Education” (LFE) program for the Internet age. The initiative, which was tested at Kroger stores, allows shoppers to register online and accumulate points in their e-Labels account automatically when they use a shopper’s card to buy a qualifying LFE item.
Also cutting-edge is Hershey’s integrated marketing campaign to support the opening of the eagerly awaited summer movie “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” which — in addition to the now usual components of specially marked packaging, a tie-in TV commercial and a dedicated, interactive Web site — includes an opportunity for five winners to actually spend the night at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, where the action of the film takes place. What’s more, Hershey tested the idea of museum sleepover out on an exclusive group of “mom bloggers” and their kids, thereby not only getting advance reaction to the promotion, but also making sure the word got out via the World Wide Web.
The potentially powerful mom blogger demographic is also being used by Campbell to spread the word about LFE.
Beyond these two technological examples, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that center store is a place where new ideas are welcome — whether it’s refreshing classic soft drinks, as Pepsi has lately done; or making the timely connection between shelf-stable products and value in fun new marketing campaigns; or even pioneering a different approach to corporate social responsibility, like Heineken USA. All of these initiatives ensure that as the grocery industry forges ever further into the 21st century, center store won’t be left behind, but instead will be marching in the vanguard.