Friday, October 16, 2009

Walmart Plans a 'Family Night'

By Cristel Mohrman

Walmart is cross-promoting packaged foods and entertainment products this month in a "Family Night" merchandising program.

Launched in some stores in late August, the month-long campaign encourages families to spend quality time together playing games, watching movies and enjoying snacks.

The effort, which invites shoppers to "Make Tonight Family Night. At Unbeatable Prices," merchandises Hasbro games such as Jenga, Monopoly and Yahtzee alongside two-liter bottles of PepsiCo's Pepsi and Mountain Dew and Frito-Lay snacks. DVDs from Walt Disney Co. are also spotlighted.

The program plays out on dedicated gondolas and endcaps near the toy department, with accompanying ceiling signs featuring images of families and a suggestion to "Bring everyone together." In-line headers decorated with images of game pieces, movie tickets, popcorn and cups delineate the respective sections for games, DVDs, Frito-Lay snacks and Pepsi beverages.

Running throughout September, the "Family Night Center" gives shoppers an opportunity to visit a "one-stop area" to purchase a game, DVD and snacks for less than $30, according to a press release announcing the program.
"With busier schedules and kids heading back to school, now is a great time to provide a dedicated place in our stores to give mom the savings and ideas to create fun, quality time for her family this fall," Laura Phillips, Walmart's senior vice president of entertainment and chief toy officer, said in the release.

"Family night has really seen a comeback. We're seeing that in terms of what customers are buying," a Walmart spokesperson told the Institute. The promotion is "all about creating savings for products that help [moms] create family time," she said. "Right now, she's thinking about, 'How do I keep this family entertained while saving money?' For us, it's a way to reach out to her with what we know she's looking for right now."

Walmart dropped a circular on Aug. 30 that contained a two-page spread featuring participating brands and proclaiming, "A family that plays together stays together." The feature also spotlighted frozen pizzas from General Mills' Totino's, Kraft Foods' DiGiorno and the Sam's Choice private label. Meanwhile, a dedicated microsite suggests family-friendly board games and videogames, provides links to blogs written by moms, and lets visitors read and submit tips on how to make family night unique.

The theme is similar to the "Family Game Night" marketing platform that Hasbro launched in fall 2008 in conjunction with "National Board Game Week." The toy maker similarly encourages families to spend time together while staying on budget by playing games priced at less than $20. Pallet displays at retailers including Walmart supported the launch. A promotional website offers advice about holding game nights.

Walmart, Bentonville, AR, operates 2,664 supercenters, 861 discount stores, 153 Neighborhood Markets, 604 Sam's Clubs and four Marketside stores in the U.S.

Published: September 2009