Nabisco blasts off with kids’ in-store snacking destination

With its launch earlier this month of Planet Snak, a 'retail snacking destination' for children under the age of 15, Nabisco Canada is hoping to touch down on firm and loyal ground with kids all across the country. Planet Snak grocery...

With its launch earlier this month of Planet Snak, a ‘retail snacking destination’ for children under the age of 15, Nabisco Canada is hoping to touch down on firm and loyal ground with kids all across the country.

Planet Snak grocery aisle sections and displays – some of which reach 40 feet in height and feature dangling planets and spaceships – are slated to invade 3,750 Wal-Mart, Longo’s, Safeway, A&P/Dominion, Sobeys and other retail locations across Canada by March 29, says Ryan Mugford, senior marketing manager of kids’ and new ventures at Nabisco.

The significance of Nabisco’s ability to create a branded in-store destination takes on greater weight considering how precious a commodity shelf space has become in Canada’s rapidly consolidating grocery sector.

One potential explanation for the fact that so many retailers are willing to allow a single manufacturer to acquire such a dominant presence in their stores is Nabisco’s added commitment to showcase the private label snack offerings of participating retailers in the Planet Snak sections.

Obviously, retailers hope to generate incremental purchases from these displays, backed by major Nabisco-funded promotional efforts. And by driving traffic to a specific destination, retailers will only be competing with one manufacturer – Nabisco – in the kids’ snack category. It’s a strategy that brings to mind the proverbial ‘win-win’ situation.

Acknowledging the shrewdness of Nabisco’s move, a source with one of the company’s major competitors, who requested anonymity, described the arrangement as ‘quite a coup’ and suggested that ‘it should have a significant impact.’

The Planet Snak name will be a launch pad for a number of new Mr. Christie single-serve products, including Crispers, Mini Oreo and Bits & Bites Snak Paks, Mini Chips Ahoy!, and Dino Bites, a dinosaur extension of the popular Animal Cracker line. Nabisco will also be repackaging Teddy Grahams and offering Ritz Bits Sandwiches in smaller sizes.

The decision to implement an in-store kids’ section was spurred by research that indicated both changing demographics and an increase in the purchasing power and influence of children, says Mugford. Nabisco first introduced its Snak Paks last March, and has already grown its kids’ category business by 32%.

‘More than 70% of kids have both parents working and, as a result, more of them are visiting the supermarkets with their parents and participating in the shopping decision,’ says Mugford, referring to a proprietary report done for Nabisco in the U.S. (see Kids Snack Facts, left). ‘As well, their exposure to the Internet and [children's media] like YTV and Teletoon are making them much more brand-savvy. The combination of these things has really justified the nature of a kids’ retail section.’

Nabisco is also using the Planet Snak umbrella to drive major promotions and activities around the snacking category. By bundling its children’s snacks under the Planet Snak banner, Nabisco has achieved the ‘horsepower’ to propel massive media campaigns, explains Mugford.

‘By linking major brands you get the critical mass to support an entire shelf location and 16 weeks of promotional work, whereas individual brands might not be able to do this,’ he says. ‘You can see how we can leverage [Planet Snak] for new products and also for approaching snacking in general.’

A spokesperson for Nabisco calls the Planet Snak marketing initiative the largest brand spend in Nabisco’s history that’s targeted to kids.

Harrod & Mirlin/FCB of Toronto has produced 30- and 60-second versions of an animated television spot that will run on YTV, Global, and Teletoon for 35 weeks, beginning March 29. The spots feature three new characters – Captain Baker, Doh!, and Steve the Robot – created by Canadian animator Chuck Gammage.

Although the spots are aimed directly at the under-15 demographic, the chief objective was to make them entertaining for all ages, explains writer Joseph Nanni, of Harrod & Mirlin/FCB.

‘It’s like The Muppet Show. That show was fun for youngsters and adults alike, because it always operates on two levels.’

The television component will be complemented with print ads running in kidsworld and Pop magazines, and with posters around school areas in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Sidebar:

Kids Snack Facts

- The kids’ snack category is showing explosive growth. Dollar sales are up 32.7% over a year ago. (Source: ACNielsen)

- Kids influence 70% of all purchase decisions involving food products. (Source: Top 10 Kids Insights)

- Eighty-two per cent of mothers give their kids snacks while grocery shopping. (Source: Moms Segmentation Study of Kids)

- The population of Canadian kids, aged 6-11, will peak at 2.5 million in the year 2000. (Source: Statistics Canada)

- Canadian kids have a discretionary income of more than $1.5 billion. That’s up more than 25% since 1995.

(Source: YTV Tweens Report)