Pairing specialty deli cheeses with other products from fresh and center store departments can increase total store sales, according to new research from Nielsen Perishables Group presented at Dairy-Deli-Bake on Monday.
Nielsen and IDDBA chose to focus on specialty cheese because it is a large, growing category, according to Sarah Schmansky, director of account services at Nielsen.
Specialty deli cheese generates $2 billion in sales, which is 12% of total deli sales. Year over year, the category has grown 7% in dollar sales and 4% in volume.
“The great thing about specialty cheese is it's a basket driver,” said Schmansky.
While the average basket is $48, a basket that includes specialty cheese averages $92.
Schmansky outlined a few different specific strategies that would include specialty cheese.
First, stores can target premium shoppers that want to cook fresh meals at home. Two thirds of specialty cheese buyers also purchase beef steaks, and the average basket with both of those items totals $148. Schmansky suggested retailers create a display with a recipe for steak with a bleu cheese crumble on top.
Another merchandising idea would be to create a convenient option for a specific meal occasion. For example, Schmansky said retailers could pair specialty cheese with deli sides, deli dips and grapes for a “picnic to go.”
Pre-made snack packs that included specialty cheese would also work.
One combination that traditionally hasn't been successful is specialty cheese and bakery. Nielsen found only 40% of specialty cheese baskets also contain a fresh bakery item. However, Schmansky said it would be easy to add a fresh baguette to displays focusing on entertaining that usually include cheese and wine.
Nielsen's research also found there is no cannibalization with dairy cheese and specialty cheese. Over half of baskets contain both.
A full copy of Nielsen's “Total Store Connectivity” report on specialty cheese will be available free to IDDBA members later this year.
“Ultimately total store connectivity is going to build bigger baskets,” said Schmansky.