Ulster Grocer Marketing Awards

The glittering occasion that is always the annual Ulster Grocers’ Ball provided the perfect backdrop for the presentation of the 2008 Ulster Grocer Marketing Awards, this year sponsored by Elevator Promotional Marketing and presented in four categories ­ Best In-store Consumer Sales Promotion, Best New Product Launch/Re-launch, Best CSR Initiative/Charity Partnership and Best Marketing Campaign.

Competition in this year’s awards was very intense across all four categories, with a great selection of high calibre entries, as showcased in
the April issue of Ulster Grocer. The judges took great time and effort assessing each and every entrant fully and were impressed by the overall standard. However, they were unanimous in agreeing their winners


Winner of the Best In-store Consumer Sales Promotion was Henderson Group for its DOG promotion in SPAR stores throughout Northern Ireland. The objectives of the DOG promotion were straightforward ­ first and foremost, to increase and reward brand loyalty and, secondly, to increase sales.

Hendersons recognised that it was imperative to protect its customer base in an extremely competitive marketplace and rewarding customers for their loyalty was identified as the right direction. Besides encouraging customers to save tokens to collect something unique, this would have a positive impact on sales and create the win-win experience that retailers are always looking for. The Henderson Group employed The Continuity Company to help put together a strategy to achieve these aims.

Hendersons and The Continuity Company worked together to create a bespoke programme, beginning with customer and market research and a study of previous promotions and mechanisms. With this research in place, a clear direction for the project became clear ­ it should run before Christmas to capture the gifting market, it should feature a range of collectable products, it should drive profitable sales, the product should be heavily impulsive and should appeal to a wide range of customers.


A number of ideas were considered, but what stood out was the chance to build loyalty and sales through offering customers the chance to purchase specialist collectables from the DOG range, which had been in great year-on-year growth since its conception in 2003 and had become something of a global phenomenon with its instantly recognisable imagery. Market research had proven this to be a popular brand with a wide range of demographics. Particularly popular with kids, it had the benefit of pester power, while also being popular with young males and females to give as gifts.

In conjunction with The Continuity Company, Hendersons launched a tailor-made loyalty promotion offering consumers the chance to purchase specialist soft toy collectables from the DOG range. The timing and duration of the campaign ­ 12 weeks from September to December ­ was designed to focus on the pre-Christmas period, a key time in Henderson’s promotional calendar, and to create enough momentum for customers to collect all six DOGs featured in the promotion.


The mechanics of the promotion were simple. Every time customers spent £5 in their local SPAR store, they could collect a special stamp. Once ten stamps had been collected, they could purchase one of the six different breeds in the DOG collection at the heavily discounted price of £2.99 (normal RRP is £12.99).

In order to best maximise the launch of the promotion, the implementation process for Henderson¹s retail partners had to be as hassle-free as possible. First of all a manager¹s guide was created to boost retailer participation. The guide outlined four steps to support the retailer,
including a comprehensive explanation of the promotion and detailed information about preparation, in-store set-up and promotional materials.

An extremely strong POS package was designed, not only to communicate the details of the DOG promotion to customers, but also to create a stimulating atmosphere in-store to grab people¹s attention and present the DOG as a unique collectable item, not to be missed. This included saver cards, stampers, posters, bus stops, cashier cards, large and small floor stickers, till cards with leaflet holder and outdoor slipover sleeves.

Other support included a pre-campaign briefing event for retailers, while every store received a visit from an experienced merchandising company to assist the store managers with launching the campaign. The Continuity Company also carried out store visits and offered merchandising support to retailers throughout the campaign.

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