Instores across the country are employing a wide variety of marketing initiatives with the ultimate goal to create more loyal customers in an increasingly competitive environment.
For instance, in Texas, where H-E-B operates more than 300 stores, this innovative chain spent a good portion of the year on a new marketing program called the Quest for Texas Best contest. H-E-B recognizes that Texans love sweet and spice, and once you blend those flavors, they are irresistible. The combination caught judges' taste buds as they whittled nearly 600 submissions from across the Lone Star State to 25 exceptional finalists.

Quest for Texas Best contest submissions came from 128 towns across the state, yielding a delicious mix of jams, jellies, spices and meats. Entries spanned 74 categories including cookies, muffins, Mexican pastries, pickles, sauces and teas. In two qualifying rounds, H-E-B Business Development Managers judged submissions on taste and flavor, customer appeal, value, uniqueness, market potential and differentiation from products already available at most H-E-B stores.

The managers chose Armadillo Eggs, Briggs True, Crybabies Sweet-N-Sassy Jalapeños, Davis Mountains Nut Company, Deelicious Red Velvet Waffle Batter, Fianco a Fianco, Four Escobars, Frenchie's Fabulous Nut Company, Fresh. Salsa, Frio Farm Artisan Extract, Habibi Gourmet, Huerta's Texas Gumbo, The Jelly Queens, Jolly Jack's Hot Sauce, Kristy's Toffee 'N Treats, La Nueva Tortilleria, Marigold Bars, MaxFrut, Deelicious Red Velvet Waffle Batter, Savannah Rose Punch, Sweet Heat Jam Company, Texas Hot Salt, Texas Toffee Queen, Vela Farms, Walker Honey Farm and YARDBIRD Bloody Mary Mix as Quest for Texas Best finalists.

Four winners will receive cash prizes and consideration for coveted space on H-E-B shelves in 2015. The $25,000 grand prize carries an additional accolade: That winner will be named a "Texas Best" Primo Pick. A first-place winner will receive $20,000, with $15,000 awarded for second-place and $10,000 for third place.

The Quest for Texas Best competition is a project of H-E-B Primo Picks, a two-year old statewide program. H-E-B Primo Picks invites customers to enjoy products that are unique, delicious and possibly new to their palates. Primo Picks selections represent the best of what is in stores, such as H-E-B MooTopia, H-E-B Queso Poblano Chicken Sausage and H-E-B That Green Sauce.

Leveraging the uniqueness of product offerings is more important to today’s instore delis and bakeries.

St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets, Inc. and partner Distinctive Foods recently showcased the “World’s Largest Gooey Butter Cake” at Kid City during The Budweiser Taste of St. Louis in Chesterfield, MO.  Part of the event’s ultimate food experience, the cake is a giant version of the new 2-ounce Culinaria recipe Truly Gooey Butter Cake bars now available at Schnucks. The bars come in original, salted caramel, snickerdoodle, lemon and red velvet flavors.

At 40-feet long and 1.5-feet wide, Culinaria’s Truly Gooey Butter Cake will qualify for consideration for the Guinness Book of World Records. The cake required 36.5 pounds of powdered sugar, 19 pounds of butter and 42.5 pounds of cake mix.  Four master bakers spent 25 hours from design to baking, and a mechanic with Distinctive Foods welded together 20 baking pans to hold the culinary masterpiece. 

Other instores are leveraging their commitment to feeding the local communities they serve. In Northern California, Raley’s Family of Fine Stores recently sponsored the 2nd Annual Farm-to-Fork Festival on Capitol Mall in Sacramento, CA. The Raley's booth featured a farmer’s market with a dozen local growers who donated proceeds from produce sales to the Food For Families program.

In addition to sales, donations from festival attendees, via Facebook, online at and through a mobile text-to-give, the campaign totaled $6,573 to help feed families in the community.