SBJ/April 16-22, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

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  • Target joins the race for grocery shoppers among NASCAR fans

    The battle for NASCAR fans’ grocery purchases is heating up.

    Target plans to promote its expanding grocery offerings at Charlotte Motor Speedway during this May’s Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600. The retailer, which has sponsored the speedway since 2007, will have nine branded vehicles that look like red Target shopping carts providing samples of grocery items in the campgrounds and parking lots at the racetrack. It also will provide a Target Taste Shuttle that will ferry fans to its stores.

    Target’s shopping cart vehicles will bring
    samples to fans in campgrounds and parking
    lots at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
    The move comes shortly after the retailer renovated Charlotte-area stores to add grocery sections and just over a year after its primary competitor, Wal-Mart, began collaborating with Charlotte and other tracks to offer a $99 ticket package for NASCAR families and, in the process, promoting grocery, apparel and NASCAR-related sales.

    “This was the convergence of four key initiatives for us,” said Dan Griffis, Target’s director of strategic partnerships, lifestyle marketing and events. “Charlotte is one of our identified key grocery markets, and with the collective captive audience we have with the NASCAR fan at the campgrounds and our relationship with them (through Target’s sponsorship of Chip Ganassi Racing), we have a chance to drive the surprise and delight element Target’s brand is about.”

    Grocery sales have been a major driver of Target’s revenue increases in recent years. The company, which calls its grocery section “PFresh,” now features groceries in 875 stores in markets ranging from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. Though it has finished renovating Charlotte-area stores, it is in the process of expanding grocery offerings in nearby cities such as Greensboro, N.C.

    Target has brought its shopping cart vehicles to the Charlotte race before, but this will be the first time it will use them as “taste wagons” to sample grocery items. It plans to sample food from brands it owns, Archer Farms (wood-fired pizza and blue corn tortilla chips with flax seed) and Market Pantry (beef meatballs and mozzarella cheese sticks). It also will give away recipe and coupon books.

    Fans who take the Target Taste Shuttle to stores will have a chance to win special giveaways like Hot Passes that get them into the pits during the race weekend and backstage passes to a Target-sponsored Blake Shelton concert.

    The Charlotte activation is being managed by Washington, D.C.-based Aquarius Sports and Entertainment.

    Griffis said that Target doesn’t have any plans right now to expand its grocery promotions to other NASCAR tracks, primarily because the only other NASCAR market where Target has made a push to renovate its grocery stores is Phoenix, and Target doesn’t have a relationship with the track’s operator, International Speedway Corp.

    But Griffis said the retailer is open to expanding its grocery sampling program to other sports.

    “Based on the success of this, we could export this,” he said. “Absolutely.”

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