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Pepsi announces Super Bowl contest with $1 million top prize

BY Jenna Duncan

PepsiCo has announced the opening of a Super Bowl sweepstakes promotion in with top prize is $1 million, the Wall Street Journal today reported. Five finalists will also receive $25,000 plus a luxury trip to the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay, Florida.

The sweepstakes is open to participants who create their own 30-second Doritos tortilla chip commercial. The commercials will then be voted on in a viewer-response competition during the Super Bowl.

“We’ve always believed our fans have the talent and passion to compete at the highest level, and we are putting $1 million on the table to demonstrate our confidence and also help our winner fulfill their own destiny,” Ann Mukherjee, group vice president, marketing for Doritos said in a statement. “Whether it goes toward funding a short film, opening an ad agency or anything in between, we’re empowering them with an unmatched stage to compete on and a motivation to make it happen.”

The ads created by five finalists will enter a final round in January. At that time, visitors can review the ad spots online and vote for their favorite one. The winning ad will air Febr.1 during NBC’s Super Bowl XLIII coverage. More details are available online at www.snackstrongproductions.com.com.

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General Mills plans expansion of its international business

BY Jenna Duncan

MILWAUKEE General Mills has said that it plans to keep building its international business in order to avoid negative effects of the slow economy. Its international segment is its fastest-growing business at present, the company has said.

General Mills’ chief executive officer, Ken Powell, explained to the company’s shareholders that it will continue to grow brands such as its Haagen-Dazs ice cream business, Old El Paso brand Mexican foods and cereals and other staples such as Cheerios. He said that General Mills also plans to launch 300 new products in 2009.

Figures for the company’s international sales have doubled from $1.3 billion in 2003 to $2.6 billion in fiscal 2008, the company reported. That reflects growth of 21 percent over last year’s sales.

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Sweetened merchandising can grow candy sales

BY Barbara White-Sax

Manufacturers and retailers seem to be paying more attention to how they are merchandising candy. In a recent investor update, Hershey chief executive officer David West said that in an attempt to make candy aisles easier for consumers to shop, the company is testing new displays that group products by purchasing occasion, such as movie candy, gifts and items for the candy dish.

“Merchandising is really important to the category,” said Lisbeth Echeandia, a consultant with Frey Enterprises, a consumer packaged goods consulting firm. “The center of the store isn’t being shopped as much, so confectionery needs to be where consumers are.”

Echeandia said a steady stream of new products isn’t enough to keep consumers interested. “We need to merchandise in a more fun, logical way,” she said. “We are realizing that just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come.”

Industry experts said a better organized candy aisle boosts sales. “More than 70 percent of consumers make their decision on what to buy in the candy aisles and spend less than 30 seconds in the aisle,” said Jenn Ellek, a spokeswoman for the National Confectioners Association. “Fixtures that provide segmented, easy-to-distinguish sections by confectionery category provide the highest sales.”

Signage can help, particularly for such hot segments as theater candy. Walgreens clearly labels its three-foot in-line theater section, located at the front of the store, with signage. “I’ve seen some nice signage at chains like H-E-B for the theater section,” Echeandia said. “Jelly Belly has also done well with in-line displays in bins that attract attention to the product.”

Retailers can get an even bigger boost with outposting—especially in such segments of the category as theater or premium chocolate, which have been high-growth areas.

CVS recently debuted a four-foot wood endcap fixture in some locations to house premium chocolate, one of the fastest-growing segments in the candy category. The fixture, placed in the front of the store, holds Lindt, Ghirardelli, Dove, Green & Blacks and M&M’s new Premiums brand, among others. Premium bagged chocolate is merchandised on the front of the fixture, while bars, boxed candy and more bags are located on the sides.

“Cross merchandising has always been an effective and easy way for retailers to increase their confectionery sales, and theater box marketing is no exception,” Ellek said. Within the aisle, she has seen retailers use signage to draw attention to a theater box set with between 12 and 20 different products. “Retailers can also use a shopping-interruption technique and set up a display highlighting a movie theme with DVDs, popcorn, beverages and, of course, confectionery,” she said.

Since NCA data show that 35 percent of customers pick up a candy or snack during their shopping trip, Ellek said retailers who take advantage of point-of-shopping interruption throughout the store to encourage more buying see a spike in sales.

“Top-performing retailers use in-store features, displays and promotions to increase confectionery sales,” Ellek said. “Retailers can use shelf dividers, call-outs and section breaks to accentuate the aisle and give consumers every opportunity to purchase.”

Grabbing more space in other departments isn’t an easy sell. “The primary roadblock to more creativity in merchandising the category is territorial issues at retail,” Echeandia said. Chocolate may be a natural near greeting cards and sugar-free candy has cross-selling opportunity near the pharmacy, but too often buyers aren’t working together to make the most of those synergies.

“Retailers should know that there is a $10 billion growth opportunity in the confectionery category based on best practices of top retailers,” Ellek said. “Merchandising confectionery is one of the easiest and most lucrative ways retailers can increase sales and bottom-line profits.”

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