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There's no denying that 2019 was a great year for IGA. With more retailers joining the brand than any other point in IGA history and the continued evolution of scaleable resources on par with the world's biggest national chains, IGA is making waves in the food world—and the right people are starting to take notice. The world's largest CPG brands, local vendors, and innovative service providers alike are clamoring to work with IGA and its retailers. And for good reason, says IGA CEO John Ross.
"As IGA grows, we increasingly behave more like a national chain, which makes it easier for us to work with the national marketing resources of big international brands."
It's that goal—helping IGA retailers compete on par with the national chains—that is guiding all the programs at IGA, but none more so than IGA's Red Oval Family partnership. IGA CEO John Ross and Senior Director of Red Oval Partnerships Heidi Huff sat down to discuss the growing Red Oval family, and the benefit it will bring to retailers in the new year.
Why Red Oval Partnerships Matter
The Red Oval Family—an alliance of the industry's premier food manufacturers and service providers who partner with IGA to provide extensive resources—creates a host of opportunities for the partners and IGA retailers alike. Throughout the year, Red Oval Partners support IGA retailers and their Licensed Distribution Centers in numerous ways such as helping to develop, fund, and execute offers and programs, and providing valuable category expertise that enables IGA Retailers to make better and more informed decisions.
“A Red Oval partnership means that the partner companies have additional, extra access to independents that they might not otherwise have," Huff says. Likewise, that access creates opportunities for IGA's independent retailers that they wouldn't otherwise have. “We know there's a lot happening at CPG companies that independents don’t get,” Huff elaborates. “We try to bring all of the independents together and create that one point of contact so that the manufacturers have someone to talk to.”
With manufacturers scaling back in recent years, it has become difficult for them to reach independent retailers like IGA stores. As Ross explains, they have limited resources to serve a certain number of retailers directly, which can hurt independents. But thanks to IGA’s alliance and programs like our National Digital Ad, IGA has become easier to work with for manufacturers both large and small.
How the National Digital Ad Adapts to a Changing Industry
“The National Digital Ad is a digital vehicle and it’s reaching millions of shoppers now,” explains Ross. After launching the program over a year ago, IGA can now measure its impact, which has been very successful for our Red Oval partners, with Ross saying they’ve seen an average of a 15 percent lift.
And now that IGA has settled into the program, even more groups are benefiting. “The wholesalers and ad groups are really excited about the advanced notice they’re going to get in 2020,” says Huff. They’re now able to spread out their offers throughout the year and “win better,” as she says.
As the industry transforms and big brands change the way they spend ad dollars, IGA’s National Digital Ad is an ideal option for manufacturers. We’ve seen a significant increase in interest from manufacturers to partner with IGA. “As [advertising] tactics evolve, increasingly they’re moving to performance and digital, and the good news is [IGA has] both,” says Ross.
With IGA serving as one point of contact for brands to reach over 1,200 independent retailers, a Red Oval partnership teaches these brands the best way to reach not only our IGA retailers, but IGA shoppers.
“Our stores are carrying their products, but are they carrying the right ones?” Huff asks. With limited shelf space in each store, IGA is able to guide these brands and our stores to success by helping them choose the right product mix, including top sellers, flavors, package size, etc.
Want to ensure you’re getting everything you can out of the National Digital Ad? It’s easy.
Don’t miss out on these offers—it’s free money to the shoppers, and as Huff says, “It’s not any money out of [the retailers’] pockets; they’re just passing that through to the shoppers, so [the retailers] get a really nice halo effect.”
After all, the National Digital Ad drove at least 300,000 more shoppers to IGA stores last year, according to Huff, so retailers can’t afford to miss out on those sales.
Sharing Red Oval Partner Communications and Data
Our Red Oval partners have a lot of category insights and data, so Huff and the IGA team have worked to break down that information into easily digestible bits to help retailers use this data to improve their stores. These tools include category webinars, learning bites, Red Oval Roundups within The IGA Minute weekly newsletter, and more.
They are also delivering fun and exciting content for shoppers. For example, Huff says we know shoppers go online frequently for recipes, and our Red Oval partners are providing creative recipes for their products. They’re also offering national and IGA-exclusive sweepstakes, videos, shopper education, and even merchandising displays.
Ross and Huff are especially excited about content that will help IGA retailers improve their categories. “We really want to be able to help retailers focus in on categories that they may not do on an everyday basis,” Huff says. For example, when we did a deep dive on the pet category with Purina, we offered a webinar on improving sales in Pet, and also reworked an IGA store’s pet aisle specifically using Purina’s sales-boosting tactics. IGA will be offering more of that type of content this year to help retailers evaluate other categories, including an upcoming webinar on the baby category.
The 2020 IGA Global Rally and Innovation Showcase
This year at the IGA Global Rally, IGA retailers will get to interact with our Red Oval partners in a way they never have before. The Innovation Showcase will provide a different experience than in years past. “It will be the opportunity for IGA retailers and wholesalers to really talk to our Red Oval partners about the best practices in their categories,” Huff says. She hopes to see people walk away from the Rally with a list of two or three things that they learned and can implement in their stores without spending too much money.
Ross adds that the Rally’s format will allow retailers, wholesalers, and partners to have an interactive dialogue, instead of following a formal presentation and trade show format. Retailers will be able to talk to other retailers and partners about how to better their stores in an approachable, affordable way.
Don’t Wait for the Rally—Start Talking to Red Oval Partners Today in the IGA Retailing Marketplace
While the Rally will provide an interactive format to work with Red Oval partners, IGA has created an online hub for you to reach them and other vendors today. The IGA Retailing Marketplace, now open to IGA retailers, provides exclusive access to Red Oval partners, service providers, and regional manufacturers who cater to independent grocers.
From equipment providers, branded tchotchkes sellers, and full-service social media partners to regional honey and fireworks producers, the country’s most innovative companies are putting together exclusive offers for IGA retailers, only available through the IGA Retailing Marketplace. Check out this week’s feature story and visit the Marketplace today to see what offers are waiting for you.