Progressive Grocer

Grocerant February 2017

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19 SOLUTIONS FEBRUARY 2017 Cost controls Combo meals can also be a good deal for grocerant prepared food areas, helping operators control costs and driving higher basket totals. "Operators can strategically develop combos around foods with lower costs to gain better control of invento- ry," says Karen Malody, principal of Seattle-based consul- tancy Culinary Options, especially when they judiciously incorporate seasonal ingredients. With protein costs volatile and more consumers limiting their protein intake, adding veggie-centric options can also widen the appeal of bundled meals along with driv- ing down costs. "It's possible to develop menu items that are wholesome, healthy and meatless," says Malody. "In addition to substituting grilled portobello mushrooms or veggies for meat, we're seeing vegetarian bowls with Mexican, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors that include rice, grains and grilled vegetables becoming more popular. e meals usually offer the addition of meat at an upcharge." Mealtime appeal Bundling is a strong purchase motivator for lunch customers who are pressed for time and for those who want variety. "Combo options take the thinking out of the equation," says Malody. "ere are lots of clever ways to set up a menu board to give consumers variety," such as the "pick 2" model that has become a staple at Panera Bread bakery cafés. Dinner bundling is another huge opportunity for super- markets, say industry observers, with 1 in 10 at-home evening meals including a ready-to-eat component sourced outside the home, according to NPD. Prepared appetizers represent 14 percent of those purchases, while entrées represent 11 percent. "at's two key opportuni- ties to get your dishes on an in-home dining table," says Portalatin. Chandler, Ariz.-based Bashas' grocery stores, for example, offer a combo dinner meal deal that includes an entrée and two side dishes for $7.99. e entrée themes include Mexi- can Fiesta, Italian Night, Fish Fridays, and Home Cooking, and the chain posts a menu calendar online to let shoppers know what deals are available. Snack bundles With aernoon snack occasion consumer traffic up 70 per- cent, according to NPD, grocerants that expand their bun- dle deals beyond meals could also win big with shoppers. "ere's opportunity for creative bundling around snack- ing occasions," says Portalatin. "Consumers want flexibili- ty to compose a full meal or something smaller and lighter. [You] might want to package a fruit, nutrition bar and beverage into a snack meal option or offer a snack add-on for consumption later." "We're seeing the substitution of a sweet or aernoon snack for a beverage in some instances," says Danny Bendas, managing partner of Synergy Restaurant Consul- tants in Newport Beach, Calif. "at allows [you] to give consumers something to save for later consumption—a deal that covers two meal occasions." G Recent research from Coca-Cola Co. suggests that featuring high-quality images of a complete meal combo can help drive sales, while emphasizing price on the menu board helps customers focus on the value of ordering a bundled option. Coca-Cola's research also shows that product place- ment within a combo meal photo can affect sales: Display- ing beverages to the right of the meal registers best with consumers since drinks are important components of any meal deal. And the higher margins for beverage sales allow operators to offer an appealing bundle price point while still maintaining their own margins, says Danny Bendas, managing partner of Newport Beach, Calif.-based Synergy Restaurant Consultants. Picture pointers "Combo options take the thinking out of the equation [for shoppers]." — Karen Malody, Culinary Options Restaurant consultant Danny Bendas: Bundles with beverag- es can boost margins.

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