Good Neighbor Revamps Supermarket Displays, Expands Reach

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Good Neighbor Direct is overhauling and expanding the presence of its bulletin board-style displays to generate more leads from shoppers in supermarkets and other retail outlets.

Good Neighbor, formerly Supermarket Communications Systems, has maintained displays called Consumer Information Centers (CICs) in supermarkets for more than 30 years but had not updated their appearance until being bought by Snyder Communications, Bethesda, MD, in early 1997. CICs are free-standing units located near store entrances or exits that contain take-one brochures, rebates and recipe offers as well as space for shoppers to fill out free classified ads.

Good Neighbor maintains CICs in more than 7,000 supermarkets nationwide that are seen by 420 million consumers each month. Publishers, continuity clubs and other traditional direct marketers like Columbia House and York Photo Labs are regular take-one advertisers.

"Snyder wanted to move the centers into the next century,'' said David Reed, director of store relations for Good Neighbor, Norwalk, CT. "We are competing for space. This was an opportunity to take advantage of valuable real estate that we could not before because the displays were huge slabs of plywood.''

The new displays bear a contemporary design that offers flexibility to advertisers and a community-oriented focus to attract attention. They are 4 by 6 feet in size and include three rows of pockets for 5 1/2 inch and 8 1/2-inch-wide advertising brochures with rows of free ad cards in between as well as rebate/recipe tear off pads on each side. A sign across the top of the display is reserved for cause-related programs, such as photographs of missing children.

Customer profiles and prospect universes are created through response materials in each brochure, usually a toll-free number or mail-back card. Good Neighbor uses demographic data to distribute brochures in areas that most closely match an advertiser's customer profile. CICs are restocked every two weeks and inventory reports issued every month. Good Neighbor also can assist advertisers in the design and production of brochures.

The company is currently negotiating with Wal-Mart to place CICs in the chain's division one general merchandise stores -- the displays are used in more than 600 Wal-Mart SuperCenters that have attached supermarkets. The new arrangement would bring CICs into 1,800 additional stores. Good Neighbor also is examining other areas besides supermarkets where it can reach the public.

Good Neighbor considers CICs an alternative postage-free medium marketers can use to generate leads or bulk up list programs. John Cobb, senior vice president of marketing for correspondence educator NRI Schools, Washington, DC, sees CICs as more than that.

"Even people looking to better themselves have to eat,'' said Cobb, whose firm has participated in the take-one program for 12 years. "I look at the supermarket as a major asset. Twelve years ago, we advertised 100 percent in magazines. Supermarkets are now a viable part of the marketing and one of the primary drivers of our business."

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