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Store: Geissler’s Supermarket
Location: East Windsor, Connecticut
Owner: Nilsson Family
Store Manager: Cindy Collet
Wanting to attract new shoppers is a constant in grocery, so we're always on the lookout for ways to tell our store to new people in town. Some time ago we partnered with Our Town America, a new-mover marketing company, to reach out to every new resident with a store gift certificate to be sure new residents make their way to Geissler’s IGA. But as we noticed more developers coming in to convert old mills and factories near the store into large apartment complexes, we decided we wanted to take it a step further to make sure these new residents become loyal Geissler's shoppers.
We contact the developers and worked out an agreement to provide them with welcome bags for each apartment. We fill our branded, reusable bags with locally sourced products and coupons that can only be redeemed at Geissler's, and the building managers put them in the apartments on move-in day. Since we’ve launched this initiative, we’ve seen a consistent 5 percent redemption rate in the coupons, which tells us the program is working to bring in new shoppers. And when you consider our average shopper spends $25-$30 per shop at least twice a week it's well worth it to invest in acquiring new shoppers.
Free gift. It’s a nice surprise when you’re moving in to get a gift like that. Who doesn’t like little gifts?
Introduces them to specialty items. It encourages them to try items unique to our store that they might otherwise overlook.
Positive first impression. You need to try to get new customers. These bags may be a small gesture, but they leave a positive first impression with shoppers and entice them to shop in our store.
Helps us compete. We hopefully can beat the Stop & Shops by reaching out, being unique, and doing things that huge conglomerates can’t.
Low cost. Local vendors supply the samples in the welcome bags at no cost. The per-bag cost of our reusable shopping bag is 98 cents. The coupons are produced by our in-store graphic designer, who also stuffs the bags. It doesn’t take too long, doing them in stages.
Contact developers. It just takes a phone call to contact developers. We read about the old mills being transformed into apartments in the newspaper and saw the signs going up and just called the number. They can lead you to the right people, like the business manager. Find out their timeline, if they have any specific needs, the demographics of the tenants. Is it a senior complex, for example?
Pitch your store. Talk about your convenient location to the site, stress your local products and partnerships, and so on. Developers want to work with you because they want their new tenants to feel welcome and enjoy living in that community. As word spreads, they get more people moving into the building.
Acquire samples. We asked local vendors to contribute a controlled amount—if we have 162 bags, we need 162 samples from that vendor. Vendors are receptive because they need to get customers to try their product.
Include coupons only good for your store. We add store coupons for the local products in the bag and on store-made items that only we do and that competitors don’t—like we have homemade deli salads, so we might have a coupon on, say, chicken salad. We also include a sheet that explains our delivery service with a coupon for free delivery, as well as a sheet that explains the value of our e-blasts, offering an incentive of a $10 Geissler’s gift card once they have subscribed.
Bag it. Use your branded, reusable bag.
Keep a supply of welcome bags ready to go. We got a phone call one morning that the apartment complex needed 30 bags that afternoon. Keep samples on hand and pre-make some bags to meet unexpected high demand on short notice.
Follow up with on-site events. These complexes usually have community rooms. See if your vendors want to come out and do a happy hour sampling. We’ve done this on Valentine’s Day. It went over very well.
Get creative with your relationship. We are working on putting in a cooler in one of these common areas so we can deliver groceries to the whole complex at the same time.
Take advantage of the apartment building’s communications. Some complexes do a weekly or monthly newsletter and are willing to let you send offers or notifications about store events. Some of them have a bulletin board or digital message board, and some will allow you to advertise on them.