Progressive Grocer

2017 Category Management Handbook

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December 2016 | progressivegrocer.com | 47 Lunch by the Numbers Nielsen Perishables Group data show that the deli has been in the best position to capture the lunchtime consumer through prepared offerings, as well as basic meat and cheese offerings. Many prepared options overindex during the lunch hours of 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Sandwiches up 5 percent in dollars and 3.5 percent in volume Salads up 7 percent in dollars and 6 percent in volume Soups up 11 percent in dollars and 9 percent in volume Sushi showing strong growth — up 16 percent in dollars and 11 percent in volume Chicken meals/combos/dinners — up 15 percent in dollars and 12 percent in volume driven by 1- to 3-piece smaller offerings Sarah Schmansky, director of business operations at Schaumburg, Ill.-based Nielsen Perishables Group, suggests promoting Deals of the Day through social media to create more excitement and interest regarding items that already sell well. She advises pointing the way to "lunch central" in stores, where customers can find sushi, sandwiches, salads/soups, side options and RTD beverages all merchandised in one convenient place. The Coca-Cola Co., based in Atlanta, recently commissioned a study with Nielsen Retail Execution Advisement and VideoMining, a State College, Pa.-based research company that installs cameras in the ceilings of supermarkets. The research, which looked at how to improve in-store displays, showed that sparkling soft drink displays were 35 percent more effective in converting shoppers than the average product display, and were most successful when displayed near or just after the deli/prepared food area. Data compiled from the Nielsen Global Snacking Survey and Nielsen Perishables Group FreshFacts point-of-sale (POS) data capturing 18,000 stores nationwide in the latest 52 weeks ending Aug. 27, 2015. "is is how we create the boomerang effect, ensur- ing that guests keeping coming back for more." Festival Foods' teams put snacks and lunch packages together in-house, and the organization is making a big effort to move to price-per-each, as opposed to having guests get their purchases weighed. It's quicker and easier, Schmidt says, and shoppers appreciate knowing what they'll be paying before they get to the registers. Showing How Lunch is Done Going beyond the basics also means bringing fruit and nuts into prepared salads, and avocado in dressings, to compete with restaurants' entrée salads. Festival Foods added sprouted-grain bread to the bakery and to prepared sandwiches, and staff members pay attention to the bold flavors that come in all of the little touches, like jarred pesto, mustard and jams, to enhance sandwiches. "We have an amazing team of management, as- sociates and dietitians who all like to shop the store for inspiration and to pass their ideas on to guests," Schmidt says, noting that in-store demonstrations also spark cross-category ideas for lunch. "We recently had a grilled cheese demo day, and a brie-and-fig-spread sandwich was a big hit. Another favorite was fresh apple and Havarti," she adds. Even if people aren't grilling their own sandwich- es, these simple combinations get shoppers' attention, Schmidt notes: "People didn't know about the fig spread, and they didn't know to pair it with cheese." Schmansky, of Nielsen Perishables Group, en- courages retailers to work across categories to provide this kind of inspiration wherever possible — for example, suggest which specialty cheese goes with a peak-season apple variety. IDDBA's Richard sees in-store chefs playing a major role in developing lunchtime options that are innovative, creative and tasty. "[An] idea that was put into action at IDDBA's Show & Sell Center at its annual Dairy-Deli-Bake Seminar and Expo in Houston last June was a pho bar, with the idea that consumers could create their own bowl of pho from a selection of ingredients, similar to a salad bar," he notes. IDDBA research shows that consumer shopping is continuing to heavily influence the variety of lunch products offered in retail settings, where increased variety, top quality and new flavors will keep shop- pers engaged. "Today's consumers are also more exploratory and interested in trying new flavors and tastes, and this is driving new innovations in lunchtime products," Richard observes. "ese trends include more vegetarian options, Asian- and Hispanic-influenced offerings, locally sourced ingredients, and chef- driven fast-casual concepts. Health and wellness is another factor driving consumer shopping patterns, so offering more healthful options with natural, less processed ingredients can really resonate." PG

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