Publix uses wine tie-ins, discounts to boost Alaskan salmon sales

Published on
August 23, 2017

Tastings of wild Alaska sockeye salmon and wine have proved a winning combination, helping to spur sales of the popular fish at Publix Super Markets and other large United States supermarket chains this summer.

With the support of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and St. Michelle Wine Estates, several retailers took part in the multi-pronged marketing push that included in-store demos and coupons. 

Free tastings of fresh Alaska sockeye salmon were offered at most of Publix’s 1,149 stores in mid-July. In addition to the in-store demos, Publix stores held 300 wine and seafood tastings featuring the salmon and Chateau St. Michelle wine.

“Since we offer only fresh, never-frozen fish out of our service case, we must maximize the opportunity we have to bring wild salmon to our customers while available,” Maria Brous, director of media and community relations for Publix, told SeafoodSource. “To achieve this, we run what we call the ‘summer of salmon’ promotion which starts with sockeye in early July, runs through keta in August, and closes out with coho salmon. We have just completed the sockeye portion of the promotion and produced strong sales.”

Because this is the retailer’s fifth year of the promotion, shoppers know when the season is near, “and there is an anticipation associated with the first sockeye of the season to start the event,” Brous said.

In addition to the tastings, the promotion involved wine displays located in or near the seafood department, including counter cards for seafood cases. Coordinated social media postings strengthened the promotion to shoppers.

Publix also heavily discounted wild Alaskan salmon. In early July, Publix stores offered sockeye salmon for USD 13.99 (EUR 11.84) a pound, and then dropped the price to USD 9.99 (EUR 8.46) in mid to late July. 

“From a price standpoint, it is all about creating the excitement for the customer and maximizing our opportunity to capture sales during this short season,” Brous said. “[When] the run is just starting, the prices tend to be a bit higher; but, for the final three weeks when most of Alaska is producing, it allows us to secure the fish needed to execute the promotion,” 

Publix staff demonstrated wild Alaskan salmon recipes for customers via its Aprons meal program. In its July demos, Publix featured Herb Rub Sockeye Salmon with Cherry Relish and in August, they demonstrated Sweet Pepper Keta Salmon.

“The demos are all part of building the excitement and maximizing sales,” Brous said.

Publix also promoted its Cook-In-Bag seafood dinners with a wine tie-in during the week of 24 July. The retailer’s weekly circular said the no-prep meals allows customers to “Pair something wild with something wonderful” and to “Sit back and relax with a glass of chardonnay” while their meal cooked.

“Publix has done the work for you. Your delicious Wild Alaskan Salmon with Quinoa Blend and Summer Vegetables Cook-In-Bag Dinner can be ready in 20 minutes,” it said. 

Other retailers that took part in the wine-and-seafood promotion included Target, Winn-Dixie, Albertsons, Safeway, Kroger, Super Valu’s Piggly Wiggly and Festival Foods, Basha’s, AJ’s Fine Foods, Woodman’s, Certco, and Hy-Vee.

Contributing Editor

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