Domestic Update

California Walnuts
Jun 15, 2018
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Heart Month Retail Promotions See Success

The California Walnut Board celebrated American Heart Month in February by partnering with the leading retail chains in two targeted markets, Charlotte, NC and Minneapolis/St Paul, MN, to showcase the heart health benefits of walnuts1 through a fully integrated retail test program including in-store demos and displays, price promotions, and advertisements.

Through the “Simple Steps for Healthy Hearts” program, California Walnuts collaborated with retailers to leverage their efforts around American Heart Month. Walnuts were positioned as a simple step shoppers could take towards making heart-healthy food choices. Each participating retailer was supported with an array of tactics to drive awareness and sales of California walnuts, along with in-market spot TV advertising and experiential activities for retailers who merchandised walnuts.

The in-store retail programs were a great opportunity to develop customized programs mapped to the needs of each retail partner, while showcasing the culinary versatility and heart health benefits walnuts provide.

Participating retailers in Minneapolis/St. Paul included Cub, Coborn’s, and Kowalski’s. In Charlotte, Food Lion and Harris Teeter also joined the promotion. All grocery, club and mass retailers with locations in the Charlotte or Twin Cities metro areas were eligible to participate in the program.

As one example of the program’s impact, Coborn’s walnut sales were up 55.4% with unit sales up 48.6% in February 2018 when compared to February 2017. Activities included in-store demos at their 19 locations within the Twin Cities metro area, displays, circular and in-store advertising, as well as dietitian-led “Wellness Wednesday” classes and in-store demos for customers, Facebook Live videos and other social promotions, and a local television segment.

Additional retail sales highlights include:

  • In Minneapolis, for the four-week period ending February 25, 2018, retail sales of the walnut category across all retailers were up 20.4% with volume sales also increasing 22.6% over the same period from the previous year – underscoring the impact the program had across an entire market, increasing walnut sales for participating retailers and non-participants alike.
  • Cub retailers that participated in the test program outperformed the full Minneapolis market results, driving a 32.3% increase in retail sales and a 60.6% increase in volume sales from the same period a year ago.
  • In Charlotte, for the four-week period ending February 25, 2018, retail sales of the walnut category across all retailers were up 18.4% with volume sales also increasing 15.6% over the same period from the previous year.
  • Participating Food Lion locations also outperformed the full Charlotte market results with a 29.0% increase in retail sales and a 37.8% increase in volume sales over the same period from a year ago.

The California Walnut Board plans to repeat American Heart Month promotions in 2019, but first looks forward to conducting additional retail programs this summer to drive consumption during a nontraditional time of purchase. In partnership with the Peruvian Avocado Commission, California walnuts will be featured in a minimum of 700 in-store demos in Costco, Sam’s Club and Walmart from mid-June through early August. To drive walnut sales in the produce section of the store, the CWB has several promotions lined up with produce partners. For example, California walnuts will be paired with Stemilt’s Lil Snappers apples for a July promotion in Jewel grocery stores.

1Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. One ounce of walnuts provides 18g of total fat, 2.5g of monounsaturated fat, 13g of polyunsaturated fat, including 2.5g of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant-based omega-3.

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