CUB STARTS THINKING SMALL; GROCER MARRIES IN-STORE MINIMARTS WITH CO-MARKETING

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Discount supermarket Cub Foods is testing a new concept combining the virtues of a convenience store with the hot promotion tactic of co-marketing.

Located near the entrances of Cub Foods' large-scale supermarkets, the new quick-service shops give weary customers quick access to merchandise such as candy, cigarettes, batteries and film without forcing them to navigate store aisles and checkout lines.

Four shops resembling mini-convenience stores are being tested in Cub Foods supermarkets in the Chicago and Minneapolis areas, clearly designed to stimulate impulse purchases by shoppers seeking an oasis while power-shopping at strip malls where Cub Foods' stores tend to be situated.

But the most unusual feature of the shops-called Cub Foods Extra!Extra!-is eye-catching in-store advertising for specific brands provided through co-marketing deals with marketers including Philip Morris USA, M&M/Mars, Eastman Kodak Co., Eveready Battery Co. and Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.

Stillwater, Minn.-based Cub Foods won't comment on specifics, but insiders say through co-marketing deals inked with each company in the test, Cub is allowing marketers to manage their respective merchandise categories and showcase their own brands within the shops.

Brands prominently promoted at the shops through in-store signage and shelf promotion include Marlboro cigarettes, Wrigley's Doublemint gum, and M&Ms candy.

Competing brands of candy and cigarettes are carried but the co-marketing company's brand gets top priority and in-store support based on deals worked out with Cub Foods.

"It's very early in the test, and we're just seeing how customers respond before we think about expanding it," said Rita Simmer, Cub Foods public relations spokeswoman.

Gage In-Store Marketing, a division of giant promotion shop Gage Marketing, Minneapolis, created the project. Estimated billings are not available and Cub has not indicated whether it will roll out the concept to all of stores in 13 states.

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