Progressive Grocer

2017 Category Management Handbook

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December 2016 | | 55 The Party Pre-shop Regardless of whether stores offer online shopping, a lot of party preparation can happen in the virtual world. A visit to Skogen's Festival Foods' website shows how much heavy lifting can happen online. Easy- to-navigate party-planning pages inspire ideas and set a shopping blueprint before guests enter the store. Social media messages drive shoppers to new and seasonal content. For more ambitious hosts, recipes for chili and grilling tips are also available online. e Festival Foods staff uses YouTube and Facebook to provide short videos helping the home cook. Examples of instructions include a lesson on customizing stovetop popcorn using spices and top- pings, and a quick how-to on using the store's new One-Step Prep meals to create a dinner for two in minutes. "ese online cooking instructions are a great way to educate our guests about new items, healthy snacks or recipe ideas. We see them as an extension of in-store demos, which are really well received," says Cindy L. Schmidt, senior specialist of fresh foods at the De Pere, Wis.-based grocer. Some space restrictions make it hard for her staff to execute every cross-category demonstration or mer- chandising idea that they have, but online channels have proved to be a big help. A retailer with stores deep in college and pro football country, Festival Foods offers a website full of tailgating and home-gating ideas, with food pho- tos and category headings leading readers through the store, providing party tips from each section. For instance, from the deli, pre-made deviled eggs are the highlight. Next door, the bakery has pretzel rolls and cookies. At the meat counter, brats are house-made. Just add craft beer "firkins," or small casks, and shoppers can see why Festival Foods earned the title of Grocery and Tailgating Headquarters of the NFL's Green Bay Packers. Festival Foods' online presence falls in line with the types of connections that IDBBA's study encourages. A typical cross-category party shop- per starts at the perimeter with crudités, fresh dips and specialty cheese, and then moves on to bakery breads and desserts, next to meat and fish, and eventually to center store for any finishing touches. IDDBA finds specialty cheese a particularly effective grocery item when it comes to connecting with other supermarket categories. Another IDDBA/Nielsen Perishables Group report, "Total Store Connectivity: Revealing New Pathways to Win: Specialty Cheese," highlights the fine-entertaining connection among specialty cheese, bakery, dips and other snacks. In fact, 40 percent of deli specialty cheese baskets also include in-store bakery products. Cross-merchandising and -promoting these items will encourage shoppers to buy them together more often and with more convenience. Adding other categories like jarred olives and fresh food builds baskets even further. In addition to purchase patterns, the IDDBA study also recognizes the many types of shoppers and shopping occasions that stores must address, from guests looking to quarterback from the pre- pared food section to the do-it-yourself types who want to tackle anksgiving dinner entirely from scratch. Thinking like a Host Once the shopper is in the store, the IDBBA research encourages store operations to continue drawing connections among categories, even for simple gatherings. "Some cross-merchandising makes sense, no matter the week or occasion, such as placing wine near your specialty cheese displays," says the study's author, Sarah Schmansky, director of business op- erations at Nielsen Perishables Group. "Or utilize handmade signs featuring different pairings each week, which you can place near the wine section." CPG companies have long included recipes and usage ideas on their packages, and Schmansky suggests that stores borrow this idea for fresh items. For example, include customization ideas, like roasted pepper and pumpkin seeds with store-made hummus for an "almost homemade" spread that can be served with fresh baguette slices and sliced vegetables. Where space allows, cross-category merchandis- ing centers can emulate a party-planning center Helping shoppers easily connect all parts of the store takes some reframing among category managers, who need to think as full-store shoppers who see a store as an ecosystem that fulfills a need.

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