Progressive Grocer

MAR 2017

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"It was sink or swim time, and I'm not sure my family had the highest confi- dence in me," said mom June Keeley, as she embarked on the seventh day of the Challenge. "Normally I would dread going to the store on a Saturday, but I had direction. I had motivation. I actually felt happy. I felt like a winner." Keeley organized her shopping cart following Baggs' instructions, separat- ing the protein from carbohydrates, and purchased prepared salads and other ingredients for Italian beef sandwiches. At home, she encouraged her family to participate in the meal prep to liven up the dinner experience. The Schnurr and Gebien families, mean- while, made pasta and their own sauce, but added store-prepared meatballs as a time saver. The Gebiens further supplemented garlic tomato bread with produce from their home garden. Ebony Ramirez, a wife and mother of five, said she felt more confident entering the store on day seven because she took Baggs' advice and developed a purchase plan. Moreover, she had a clearer understanding of how to use the whole supermarket to meet her family's mealtime needs. "When I walked into the grocery store today, I already knew what I was buying. I went straight for the vege- table aisle and I grabbed ev- erything in order," Ramirez said. "The prepared food was almost the last spot I went. I know it's not from scratch but when I'm putting it together it feels like I'm making it from scratch. Today, even though I was using prepared foods, dinner felt like homemade to me." Communication is Critical Tyson's Le Blanc stressed that the four families' success in the aftermath of Chef Baggs' visits demonstrates the importance of educating and inspiring consumers. Communicating the full benefits of retail prepared foods in the context of the entire store was key. "To start any revolution you must change the conversation," said Le Blanc. "Once we change the conversation what we find is that the real challenge in prepared foods is a communication challenge. It's a shopper marketing challenge. How do we find a way to speak to the target consumer before they even enter the store, and how do we deliver the right message to activate their purchase intent?" As a first step, Amber Langston, a channel marketing manager for Tyson Foods, suggested that retailers use their existing digi- tal infrastructures, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, websites or on-line advertising, as low-cost, low-investment options for consumer education and inspiration. "We've noticed that many retailers are underutilizing their digital infrastructure to communicate about the prepared foods department in any way," Langston said. "And if they are, they certainly are not educating and inspiring the consumer." Channel marketing manager Brad Bennett added that retailers haven't scratched the surface in terms of marketing and enrich- ing the shopper's experience using retail prepared foods. He pointed to department signage, co-marketing opportunities, stronger integration of existing loyalty plans and use of a chef by appointment only as potential tactics to inspire consumers. Le Blanc insisted that retailers' focus on new equipment, prod- ucts and store design is misplaced. "All the bells and whistles that we see everyone trying to add to what they do, that's not where loyalty is won or lost," he said. "The answer goes back to communication. It's critical we com- municate with the shopper both inside the store and outside the store. We have to not only tell consumers what to do, we need to inspire them to do it." n The Keeley and Ramirez families wrap up the "Prepared Foods Challenge" with meals that combine retail prepared foods and other fresh ingredients. "Today, even though I was using prepared foods, dinner felt like homemade to me." — Ebony Ramirez DAYS 1-3 Families make dinner on their own using prepared foods from local supermarkets. Families are on their own to make dinner, this time using what they learned about prepared foods and the supermarket as a whole. Chef Charlie Baggs educates the families on prepared foods and how to make the most of them. DAYS 4-6 DAY 7 T Y SO N F OO DS ' P R E PA R E D F OO DS C H A L L E N G E PA RT T H R E E

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