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Mass Connections launches retail promotion alerts program for consumers

BY Antoinette Alexander

CERRITOS, Calif. Shopper marketing company Mass Connections has launched a new communications program that utilizes such vehicles as mobiles devices and in-store radio and television programming to deliver real-time retail promotion alerts to consumers.

The program has been in development since the end of 2008 and in the market, as a limited pilot, since the beginning of April 2009. Following the test, the service is now “live” nationwide, company announced on Thursday.

Through the “Consumer Alert” program, real-time notifications alert consumers when promotion details are confirmed. The alerts can be triggered from each store providing confirmation that deliverables are ready, according to Mass Connections.

How it works: Mass Connections works with consumer packaged goods companies, retailers and media distribution companies to develop marketing campaigns around product promotions. In addition to promotional material, the campaign can now incorporate tactical components that utilize the Consumer Alert process.

Mass Connection’s event personnel then swipes the Mass Connections card at the retailer’s POS/debit system to trigger the beginning of the in-store promotion. The swipe is instantly received by Mass Connection’s system, identifies the program, location, program, date and time, as well as the specific information to trigger all related campaign media.

The result is real-time promotional messages delivered as soon as the promotion is ready, supported by human verification that all materials and products are consumer ready.

Consumers can opt-in for the Consumer Alert program through a retailer’s or consumer packaged goods company’s Web site for notifications, by zip code, for free premiere giveaways, limited shelf life products, special discounts/offers, product recalls, etc.

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P&M makes grilling easier with recyclable all-in-one EZ Grill

BY Anna Mcgrath

NEW YORK P&M is rolling out its new environmentally friendly all-in-one EZ Grill, perfect for the summer season.

According to manufacturers, the portable EZ Grill is a 100% recyclable instant grill, complete with foil pan, grill grate, stand and charcoal.

The disposable instant grill is all-natural and free from all additives, chemicals and fillers. It lights with one match and is perfect for tailgating, camping or a barbecue.

EZ Grill can be found at Winn-Dixie stores, Red Apple Markets and drugstore.com and is available in two sizes.

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Standard & Poor raises outlook on Rite Aid

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services on Tuesday revised its outlook on Rite Aid to stable from negative, the company announced.

“The rating action follows Rite Aid’s successful refinancing of the bulk of its 2010 debt maturities, including a new $1 billion asset-based revolving credit facility, thereby improving its liquidity position and enhancing financial flexibility,” stated Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Ana Lai. “Further, Rite Aid’s operating performance remains adequate and we expect cash flow generation to improve due to operating initiatives to reduce inventory and capital spending cuts, resulting in good levels of positive free cash flow.”

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services suggested it would consider revising the outlook to positive if the company is successful at turning around the Eckerd stores’ performance, thereby increasing profitability and cash flow, with credit metrics strengthening such that leverage falls to less than 7.0x.

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