December 20, 2010

Merchandising Chanukah

With less than two weeks to Chanukah (yes, it begins early this year, on the eve of December 1st) many retailers are scrambling to merchandise the traditional foods and gift items that define the 8-day holiday. “Chanukah is extremely confusing to my employees,” a kosher supermarket owner told me. It seems that unlike Passover when there are weeks of preparation and then the store closes for at least 2-days, on Chanukah the store remains open throughout and gifts are given the entire 8-days. While many stores recognize the opportunity to connect with their Jewish customers, which is why they “invest” in an electric menorah, they are not exactly sure how to merchandise Chanukah. Do they make the effort to display a fresh assortment of doughnuts, highlight frozen pancakes or pancake mix, make up their own gift baskets and so forth. The answer is, of course yes to all of the above and the more effort they dedicate for the holiday, the better they will do.

Yakov Yarmove of SuperValu makes sure that his stores have something for everyone in the free standing ads he helps prepare. There are chocolate coins and dreidels for the kids and all the necessary ingredients for “latkes” (potato pan cakes). While not in Passover’s league (from the point of view of sales), Chanukah has become a huge gift-giving holiday with enormous opportunities for all segments of the food industry, including the growing number of on-line gift stores. I recall seeing the stat that Hallmark sells more Chanukah cards than any other religiously themed cards. Many stores have mastered the Chanukah merchandising with a front-of-store display of the foods, dreidels, coins and other goodies to go along with specials on ingredient items for pancakes as well as the obligatory apple sauce. If you are into kosher, Chanukah is most definitely part of the mix, but it is important to make plans for a good marketing and merchandising effort and not to rely on miracles!