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A department visited by 100 percent of shoppers, the all-important front end ? brimming with high-margin incremental sales opportunities ? is the last area of the store that can drive shopper satisfaction. With this the case, Mars Chocolate and Wrigley have taken the wraps off an illuminating new LED rack display that can increase sales of grocery front end confectionery by as much as 12 percent.
?We?re thrilled with the opportunity to bring innovation with LED-lit racks to the front end,? notes David Kennedy, VP of U.S. grocery at Chicago-based Wrigley. Supported by best-in-class merchandising, the new LED lighting, which is being used with impressive results by both Winn-Dixie and Supervalu, draws immediate attention to confections, says Kennedy, which in turn spurs impulse purchases. Moreover, he adds, the eyecatching LED racks have generated consistently impressive results in pilot stores, ?with an increase of at least 10 percent ? and much higher in some cases ? for front end confectionery. Grocery retailers can maximize potential in the confectionery category with the ideal combination of assortment, shelf pitch and lighting.?
Citing results of a 52-week test with a best-in-class front end at a Northeast regional grocery chain, Kennedy says 16 stores featuring identical planograms, pricing, items and promotions were put to the test, eight of which were control stores, while the other eight featured the new LED-lit racks. ?The stores with LED lighting saw dramatic increases in excess of 10 percent in unit sales of confectionery versus the control stores,? he notes.
Best of all, adds Kennedy, the compelling benefits of Mars and Wrigley?s energy-efficient and highly affordable LED-lit racks facilitate a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats reward for the entire front end confection category. ?As opposed to being self-serving for our own family of brands, this is a full-category approach,? he affirms.
Further, ?considering that the front end represents some of the best real estate in the entire store for retailers, we want to help them make the most of it,? says Kennedy, underscoring the ?considerable effort and insights our organization has invested in to grow the confection category,? including gum, mints, chocolate and nonchocolate products. ?We feel really good about the exciting results that have transpired thus far? at the initial supermarket organizations that have embarked on full rollouts of the LED-lit racks, he adds.
Susan Gwinnett-Smith, VP of grocery/retail for Hackettstown, NJ.-based Mars Chocolate North America, heartily concurs. ?Our goal is to help retailers increase sales and profit in the confection category. It?s advantageous to everyone involved ? the retailer and all of the manufacturers in the category. We?re always seeking and developing new tools to help lift the category, whether it?s a new front end rack, shopper insights or merchandising strategies.?
The impetus behind the illuminating solution, explains Gwinnett-Smith, took wing last year following results of a Mars Chocolate-Wrigley front end study. ?Our research examined every facet of the front end, from product assortment to display rack performance. The study verified that confections are impulse-driven, so we wanted to find an innovative way to attract the shoppers? attention and get the products noticed. Through more than a year of testing, we?ve determined the best-performing front end racks with the ideal combination of assortment, shelf pitch and lighting.?
?Icing on the Cake?
When asked about the most advantageous benefits for retailers with the new LED-lit racks, Gwinnett-Smith replies: ?Instead of looking at their smart-phones while in the checkout lane, shoppers will now look at the racks. The new LED racks really grab their attention and encourage confection sales. Plus, the front end is the last impression a retailer makes on a shopper. These bright racks look more inviting and appealing, leaving a good impression.?
In light of the muted pace of change for front end displays and fixtures compared with other departments throughout the store, Gwinnett-Smith declares the radiant racks to be ?a gamechanger. LED lights have been used successfully in other areas of the store for years,? such as in the beauty and produce departments. ?The confection category is highly impulsive and incremental,? and shoppers are responding extremely well to the LED displays, she notes.
While results of the test stores deploying the new LED-lit racks have clearly given Mars Chocolate and Wrigley team leaders ample cause to celebrate, Gwinnett-Smith says the fundamentals of successful category management are key.
?We know that to increase confectionery sales at the front end, the merchandising must capture shoppers? attention. Yet it?s important to remember that LED lighting is like icing on the cake. First, you must have the ideal rack, with the correct pitch of the shelves, product assortment, product spacing and visibility, and assortment. This must be correct in order to generate sales,? Gwinnett-Smith asserts, ?with or without the LED.?
?Our goal is to help retailers increase sales and profit in the confection category.?
?Susan Gwinnett-Smith, Mars Chocolate North America