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Canadian products a success at Heinen's Fine Foods promotion
August 5, 2011
A Canada Brand funded promotional activity in the United States was organized by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) market development team in Ottawa, the British Columbia regional office, and Trade Commissioner, Tom Quinn, of the Consulate General in Detroit. An array of Canadian products were showcased during a three week promotion, held at Heinen's Fine Foods, and proved to be a great success in boasting superior Canadian products, while educating U.S. consumers about Canadian foods. This initiative took place from November 2010 until March 2011, and consisted of direct consumer food promotions within seventeen Heinen's Fine Foods stores located in Northeast Ohio.
This collaborative initiative was compromised of nine diverse Canadian product lines from six provinces, and the products ranged from organic foods, to private and brand label products, to fresh and frozen seafood. The promotions included in-store circular advertisements, with a printing run of over 380,000 per week, and ads in Heinen's "Tasteful Rewards" weekly e-mail, which goes to over 100,000 Heinen's loyalty program subscribers. Heinen's also developed in-store signage and shelf tags for the promos, which featured the "Canada Brand" maple leaf logo, as did the circular and e-mail ads. There were also temporary price markdowns, strategic product placements and in "impulse buy" locations, which in some cases included portable freezers or coolers located near the front of the stores. However, the most effective element of the program was a series of in-store sampling and preparation demonstrations (demos) in all Heinen's stores over six days —102 Canadian food demonstrations, in all. Most stores offered a taste of Canadian beer with the mussel and pizza demos. Overall the activities were very well received by store customers.
The AAFC team was in all 17 Heinen's stores at least once during the demos, and visited 13 stores two or more times. The team audited, monitored, photographed, and assisted the product demonstrators as they interacted with Heinen's shoppers. The team also interacted directly with Heinen's customers, soliciting feedback, answering questions and offering takeaway cards for consumers to learn more about Canadian food products.
This initiative was conducted by AAFC in order to obtain direct feedback from consumers regarding their attitudes about Canadian food products, to emphasize quality attributes and brand recognition for Canadian agri-food and seafood products, test sale increases resulting from promotional activities and to develop an overall "benchmark" and best practises for future initiatives.
The Canadian companies who featured products included: Dare Foods, Liberté Yogurt, P.E.I. Mussel King, Sea Pride, J.T. Bakeries, Nature's Path Organic Cereal, Molinaro's Fine Italian Foods, North Atlantic, Inc. and Commercial Bakeries.
Overall, Heinen's Fine Foods indicated that they had a positive experience with Canadian food suppliers, and that they have found Canadian companies are more flexible in working with smaller chains like theirs. Even customers who shop at Heinen's Fine Foods portrayed a similar response, and said that they consider Canadian products to be of high quality and value. They also mentioned how supportive they are of the Canadian economy, some stating "what is good for the Canadian economy is good for the U.S."
At one store, comments from employees and customers included "the PEI mussels were the best mussels I've eaten" and "I bought Canadian turbot every day for a week". One of Heinen's seafood managers buys fresh seafood five days a week, tests new recipes, and promotes them to her customers. She said "Canadian seafood is wonderful and very flavourful." Heinen's Corporate Seafood Category Manager noted that the Valentine's Day lobster tail promo in week one produced US$12,307 in sales, where typical weekly non-holiday/non-ad sales are approximately US$600.
The various other promoted product lines experienced increased sales as well during the span of this initiative, and the total amount generated during the promotion weeks reached approximately US$54,907. An increase in sales was particularly seen with Dare, Liberté Yogurt, mussels, lobster tails and turbot.
The Co-President of Heinen's Fine Foods, Tom Heinen, concluded that the promotion of Canadian products would not pose a conflict with the marketing of their products, as they are about "selling great food, no matter where it comes from."
If you have any further questions regarding the Heinen's Fine Foods Promotion, how your company can participate in similar upcoming events in the area, please contact:
Tom Quinn, Trade Commissioner
Canadian Consulate General
600 Renaissance Center, Suite 1100
Detroit, Michigan 48243
Until next time,
Cheryl Hogan and Rasha Al-Katta
Kelenna // 06-August-11
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Aubrie // 08-August-11
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