Successful supermarket promotions: a mini guide for brands

Successful supermarket promotions: a mini guide for brands

Margot Bonhomme
November 11, 2023 - 7 min reading

The use of promotions is an essential technique for brands wishing to boost their sales in supermarkets. Inflation and declining consumer purchasing power make the impact even greater...

The promotion war is on!

But beware: successful promotions require a well thought-out strategy. That's why Sidely has put together this mini-guide covering the basics you need to master before getting started.

The advertising and promotional plan 

Before starting your promotional operations in supermarkets, it's important to define your promotional action plan.

But first, what is an A&P plan?

In 2 words, this marketing tool allows you to summarize your marketing plan for one year, and integrate all the advertising and promotional actions you're going to implement.

Promotions are based on a number of factors:

  • The objective of the campaign: to increase sales, build customer loyalty, etc;   
  • Typology of the target customer: to best adapt your promotion, it is necessary to understand your target audience and its expectations;
  • Selected product: determine which product to highlight in this promotional campaign, and why;
  • Periodicity of actions: you need to establish a calendar for your campaigns (start and end dates) and decide when to implement them (e.g. product launch date, holiday season, back-to-school period, etc.);
  • Budget: It is important to determine the amount of money you can allocate to your promotional campaign, in order to maximize your return on investment;
  • Means of communication: the channels and means to be deployed are as numerous as they are varied: sales promotion, TV advertising, sponsorship, press, radio, mailing or social networks, etc. 

In addition, it's imperative to monitor and measure results, to ensure the effectiveness of your campaign. In fact, you'll probably need to adjust your strategy according to feedback and market trends.

The different types of supermarket promotions

As a reminder, your objective when implementing a promotion is to increase sales volume. To achieve this, you will lower your prices in exchange for an increase in the volume of product on sale. This negotiation can be carried out at two points, creating two types of promotion: negotiated and pirated. 

  1. Negotiated promotions: these are called negotiated promotions because they are negotiated directly at the central or regional level. 
  2. Pirate promotions: these are generally the result of a good agreement between the brand and a sales outlet, or of non-catalog sales actions. Sales staff then sell the promotion directly to the stores. 

The different promotional mechanisms

Sampling / Free Trial

Let's start with a word of caution: since Article 16 of Law No. 2018-938 of October 30, 2018, the term "Free" in food promotion has been outlawed. Brands have since got into the habit of preferring it to the term "offered".

That said, there are two kinds of sampling or testing of this type:

  1. Distribution or free tasting: the customer can taste or test a product, often at a stand with a brand presenter, who can give information about the product. 
  2. Temporarily test a product or service : for example, if you sell software, you can offer a temporary license, so that your target audience can see what it's like and make a decision before buying the paid version.

Use case : you want to attract possible number of customers. They can then test the product without taking any risks.

Ideal for launching a new product.


Price reduction

It's an undeniable lever for selling more! A method that seems simple, but in fact involves many techniques: 

  • Direct discount : you offer a price reduction that can be applied immediately at the checkout. Also known as BRI, for Bon de Réduction Immédiate ;
  • Coupon: out-of-store coupons are supplied in advance in magazines, by e-mail, post or on the Internet. They encourage your prospects to visit the store to buy your product. You can also provide in-store coupons;
  • Deferred reimbursement: following their purchase, customers have the option of being reimbursed for part of the sale price. They can also be reimbursed in the form of a gift card, which encourages them to buy again. The accepted term is ODR, for Offre De Remboursement ;
  • Quantity discounts: for the same price, your customer obtains a larger quantity of the product. You can also make batch sales.

Use cases : The primary aim is to encourage impulse buyingwhich will contribute to increasing your sales.

You can also use this technique if you need to increase your sales of a particular product, so that you can destockingor in the event of a sales deficit.

The introduction of a introductory offer for a new product is also a good way to attract your target customers.

Finally, with the right POS material, such as shelf stoppers, you'll stand out from your competitors.

Risks and constraints associated with price reductions

When it comes to offering reductions, certain risks need to be known and controlled: 

  • Avoid having a product on promotion too often. This would encourage your customers to wait for the next promotion before buying. In this case, it's your profit margin that takes a hit, and sometimes even your sales;
  • The EGalim law regulates promotions: your distributor is obliged to apply a minimum mark-up of 10% on food products, and therefore cannot offer your products at cost price;
  • Similarly, discounts may not exceed 34% of the sale price on food products, with the exception of perishable foodstuffs threatened by rapid deterioration (products with a short shelf life);
  • Finally, selling at a loss is strictly forbidden.

Successful promotions in supermarkets

Rewards: loyalty points in exchange for another product

Simply put, you're going to give your customers a gift! 

Gift items can take many different forms: they can be samples of one of your other products or that of one of your partners, or goodies (flocked with your brand).

There are different ways to collect the gift. 

  • Direct bonus : your customer can, for example, find it directly in the product packaging, like a magnet in a packet of cookies. I'm sure you or your children have fond memories of Marine Malice, or Spy Fox, whose demo was offered with the purchase of a pack of cereals.
  • Animation : in the case of sales animation, your brand's animator can offer the gift at the time of purchase; 
  • Post-purchase bonus : your customer goes to the department store reception desk once they've finished shopping, to claim their "prize";
  • Deferred bonus: here, you use a loyalty points system. Your customer collects points or proof of purchase. He then sends them to you to obtain his gift. This system is a good way of encouraging repeat purchases;
  • Direct self-pay bonus: the consumer has to contribute financially - but for a very limited amount - to obtain the gift. For example, the customer buys a PC and for 1 euro more he gets the computer cover;
  • Deferred self-pay: a technique similar to direct self-pay, except that in this case your customer buys the product, and then has to send you proof of purchase with the financial contribution to obtain the gift.

Use cases : if you're looking to customer loyaltythis is the most suitable promotional method, as it encourages your customers to make repeat repeat purchases.

The premium is also ideal if you want to to promote another product of your brand. Adding a sample can also help regulate your inventory problems.

Competition Games

This promotional technique allows your customers to take part in a game to win a prize: one of your products, an object, a voucher, etc. 

You can opt for different formats, with or without obligation to buy:

  • Spinning wheel to obtain a prize; 
  • Scratch tickets ;
  • Single draw ;
  • Questionnaire followed by a draw.

Competition games in supermarkets may seem complicated to set up, since this technique involves certain constraints, such as the need to draw up rules and regulations. However, the Consumer Code has been relaxed, and it is no longer compulsory to file the rules with a bailiff. Similarly, in the case of a prize draw, it is not necessary to be under the supervision of a bailiff.

The use of a bailiff is still highly recommended if you want to set up high value prizes, to avoid any problems in the event of a dispute. 

Tip: the draw also gives you an excuse to organize another in-store event!

Use cases : This technique can be used in a variety of situations:

  • Arouse the curiosity of new customers.
  • Launch a new product: to make it known and tested.

Ensure that your supermarket promotions run smoothly

Now that you've determined your objectives, drawn up an A&P plan and chosen the actions you want to implement, all that's left to do is put them into practice!

Here too, we'd like to suggest a few best practices to help your point-of-sale promotions run smoothly.

To begin with, keep in mind that optimizing these various promotions generally requires good product dramatization.

In addition, as with all your marketing and sales actions, you need to move forward in chronological stages to ensure that your promotional action plan runs smoothly:

1) Plan your A&P plan;

2) Validate the legal compliance of your actions: 

a. Concerning food products: since April 15, 2023, the new legal framework stipulates that promotional advantages may not exceed 34% of the selling price. Article 125 of the ASAP law regulates the volume of products sold, i.e. this must not exceed 25% of the forecast volume. Lastly, the use of the term "free" is forbidden, and the margin rate is set at a minimum of 10% for food products; 

b. Make sure you have the tools you need to justify the sale of promotional products, in the event of an inspection.

3) Prepare instructions for your distributors, so that they can place your products in stores according to your expectations. Provide photos or illustrations;

4) Ensure that your promotions are properly implemented through exchanges between your sector managers and department heads.

5) Evaluate your performance by measuring the number of promotions sold by sales reps, the number of stores that agreed to run the promotion, the volume of sales... Sidely helps you find and measure all this data. Negotiating checkouts can be a great help in this respect! We'll show you how.

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