Johnsonville Flaunts Sausage-Beer Love at Meijer

Cyndi Loza
Associate Editor, Path to Purchase Institute
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Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnsonville and Molson Coors Beverage Co. teamed up again this year to run a patriotic summer grilling program at Meijer positioning the manufacturers’ brands as an ideal pairing.

Running from June 28 through roughly Aug. 22, the “beer [heart symbol] sausage” program this year centered on a rebate promising Meijer shoppers $4 in savings with the combined purchase of a Miller Lite or Coors Light 15-pack (or larger-count item) and two packs of eligible Johnsonville SKUs. In stores, pallet cards in the meat department and aisle violators in the beer aisle plugged the offer, encouraging shoppers to text a promotional number to learn how to redeem the rebate. The offer was valid from July 5 through Aug. 23.

The rebate served to drive shoppers from the beer aisle over to the meat department and vice versa, says Johnsonville shopper marketing manager Stephanie Plehn. In-store activity also included a bunker sign in the meat department and an adjacent pallet outfitted with similar signage stocking Miller Lite and Coors Light beer, she notes. Both the bunker and pallet signs used the same “beer [heart symbol] sausage” message (with the “USA” in the word “sausage” highlighted in blue) while depicting SKUs from both manufacturers over a white- and red-striped background.

Digital support encompassed account-specific social media activity via Johnsonville’s Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram channels that targeted the Meijer geography, display ads on and a “brand boutique” within the retailer’s website that shared recipes, such as a “brat hot tub” that used Johnsonville brats and Molson Coors beer as key ingredients. Additionally, the beer manufacturer staged a programmatic media buy targeting beer and sausage category purchasers who were at least 21 years old, says Robin Wilson, customer marketing manager for Molson Coors. “We [targeted] shoppers that are likely to purchase in our categories, but there’s some potential for conversion if they would typically purchase another brand,” Wilson says.

The program resulted in double-digit lifts in sales on Molson Coors 15-packs – the primary pack on the program’s pallet displays – as well as a significant lift in 24-packs, according to Wilson. (Other metrics were not available at press time.)

Johnsonville enlisted Molson Coors for a similar program at Meijer in summer of 2019 as part of a larger, multi-retailer effort. Though there were similarities between the programs, such as incremental display activity for Molson Coors brands in Meijer meat departments, Plehn says this year’s campaign at the mass merchant used “much more targeted social media and there was not a cross-merchandising offer last year with the two brands together.”

COVID-19 Interruptions

The program was originally slated to start sometime in May and run through July, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to be put on hold, according to Plehn. “We weren’t sure we were even going to get to run it,” she says. “Meijer and Johnsonville were watching week by week several weeks prior and both teams decided that this would be sufficient timing and were comfortable with our supply position to drive the demand beginning June 28.”

Though the program was shortened due to the pandemic, Plehn says the campaign ran for a good stretch of time and noted Meijer was great to work with. “It’s important to note that Meijer did lean in with us post-COVID and allowed us to do this promotion when there were a lot of retailers [wouldn’t],” says Plehn, who noted Meijer was the only retailer that ran the “USA” program this year. “They were so willing to give us a platform to collaborate.”