Cameron Sigmund, 5, is playing checkout.
He packs a teeny-tiny Pump sipper-bottle, mini-Energizer battery pack and finger-width Head & Shoulders dandruff shampoo into a shopping trolley, before swiping his customer’s Fly Buys card and ringing it through his New World plastic register.
As mum brandishes a plastic-wrapped Domino Star from Countdown, a fight breaks out between the pint-sized cashier and his pig-tailed 1-year-old sister Ashley over who’s going to open it.
Screams ensue. The packet is opened. Disappointed faces all round: the Sigmunds already have Nemo.
The family, from the northern Wellington suburb of Paparangi, have religiously collected the little giveaways from New World and Countdown since the stores started the promotions in 2013.
The marketing manager who came up with the idea of the miniatures is an evil genius who has probably earned two year’s annual leave for it.
Free collectable toys are nothing new: from little Hamburglars in our McDonald’s Happy Meals, to Christian Cullen All Blacks cards in our 1990s Weet-Bix boxes.
But since New World, owned by Foodstuffs, launched its extraordinary Little Shop range of mini-branded supermarket products in September 2013 – and Countdown responded with its wildly successful collector cards and dominos – collectables have had a tsunami-like comeback, spawning school swap-meets and inflated Trade Me auctions.
Sigmund is the first to admit collecting the New World Little Shop and Little Kitchen products and Countdown Animal Cards and Domino Stars is great fun. She’s got two full sets of each, one for each child.
But she’s already swapped supermarkets four times just to follow the promotions, and after the Domino Stars set is complete, she’s done, she says.
Why these ones work so well, is they are not making you shop more often, they are just making you choose a particular brand, to keep your kids happy.
And as a result of its “Little” promotions, New World has gained nearly one percentage point of market share in the highly contested market, Bayliss says.
Responding to claims the supermarket is using “pester-power” to hook young consumers, Bayliss says it has not found parents are pressured to spend more at the supermarket.
“Instead what we have noticed is shoppers who may not be loyal to one supermarket brand become committed to shopping at New World during the promotion period.