Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Marketing Genius

The popular local grocery supermarket in my city is a family owned enterprise. It has expanded out of our local area to PA, VA, NJ, MA and is always in the top 100 businesses in an annual account of thriving area business. It also usually ranks, by their employees, as the #1  "best places to work". I have blogged about this business in an earlier post.

That's just a little background so I can tell you this story.

All of the stores in this chain have a dining area. People can buy a meal and then go to the dining room and eat right in the store. There are microwaves in the dining rooms although you can also buy a meal from a steam table which is just the right temperature to eat on the spot. All of the dining areas that I have been in, though they're all differently decorated, are extremely pleasant places to take a meal ( some with upholstered couches and chairs, big flat screen TV's, blown up vintage photos of a local nature) and sure beats messing up your own kitchen to prepare, then clean-up after a meal.

This past Summer, on Friday evenings, the ultra keen marketing gurus have hired local big bands (of the Benny Goodman type) to play dance music from the 40's and 50's (Swing) at supper-time. The band strikes up about 5:30 PM and plays until 8:30 PM. The diners/dancers are almost 100% seniors/retirees. They get something to eat for dinner, bring it to the dining area, have dinner with friends, then dance the night away. And for most seniors, 8:30 PM is time to call it a night.

A little "aside" - this is just about the time that the younger generation is getting ready to go out on the town.

How clever of the marketing department to think of such a delightful way to get shoppers into the store on Friday nights.

Sometimes I stop in the store after work on a Friday. I get out of work at 5 PM. When I walk in the store that is near where I work, I actually enter the store through the dining room and it's already packed with seniors. The tables are filled. It looks strangely like "dinner theater".

I never have my camera with me because I don't expect to have any reason to use it. I then have to resort to taking pictures with my phone. I just can't resist this opportunity. I apologize that they are not the best quality.

The last Friday night, a few weeks ago, that I observed this event - and I think I might call this the "piece d' resistance" - a store employee/chef (dressed in proper chef attire) wheeled a tea cart into the dining area about midway of the 3 hour event - loaded with sweets - and SOLD them - at less than the rate that the diners would have had to pay for them at the cash register !!!

This scene and the others I have witnessed at different times and even different locations of the grocery chain always remind me of the local dances I used to attend as a teenager. Girls all dressed up, worrying about how they look, running to the ladies room every few minutes to apply another spritz of perfume, freshen their lipstick and blusher, fluffing up their hair, guys gussied and smelling of aftershave, all having that certain "far away" look in their eyes............     It's the same scenario but one is populated by teens and the other by retirees and the only real difference (besides hair color)  is time.

As far as I know this program is just a Summertime event. It will be interesting to see what surprises they have for us to wile away the dreary Winter months.

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