Oct 02, 2009 at 02:23 PM
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Sponsorships Boost Grocery Store Spirit

"It’s game time — in the grocery aisles," Joyce Smith writes in today's Kansas City Star.

In Kansas City, she notes that grocery stores like Hy-Vee and Price Chopper are competing harder than ever to show community spirit through sponsorships, and in doing so crossing paths at every turn.

Hy-Vee, which earlier this year wrested the Chiefs sponsorship title away from Price Chopper, is pouring it on this fall — with dancing to DJs, immense store displays, and Chiefs-related products and promotional events. Plus, all those billboards.

Seeing Hy-Vee's exclusive with the Chiefs, Price Chopper raised them by cutting deals with all of the major local colleges including Mizzou, K-State and KU.

“There are probably more passionate fans in Kansas City for those three combined colleges than there are for the Kansas City Chiefs, and it also was a far better value — dramatically lower sponsorship cost,” said Dave Wilson, a partner with InQuest Marketing in Leawood, Price Chopper’s marketing agency.

Price Chopper's play for the Chiefs isn't all done, however, as they have found ways to tie-in to the local NFL spirit without an official team deal. The article points out that Price Chopper has secured a 3 year ad deal that includes a "Chefs-n-Chopper" pre-game segment before Chiefs games, while they have signed up the Chiefs' play-by-play announcer to do voice-overs on their new commercials.

This scene plays out in most major markets, as stores look to lock up category exclusive deals team deals - and lock out competitors.

In today's entertainment economy, stores must provide customers with more than good deals. Customers expect "experiential shopping" and sports ties offer a great platform for giving them that, as Smith's portrayal demonstrates.