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Viewpoint: ‘Superconsumers’ drive sales in fresh departments

IDDBA research finds growth opportunity

Shopper traffic in our fresh departments has traditionally been a key measure of success. Logically, it makes sense: The more shoppers visit a department, the greater the sales volume. But what if I were to tell you that 10% of shoppers drive as much as 25% of sales in a given department. How would that impact the manner in which your stores and departments engage your shopper base?

IDDBA’s latest research classifies these shoppers as “superconsumers,” individuals who over-index in volume, sales and profit. These consumers are engaged and insightful when it comes to shopping, and they have a passion for the food they purchase and consume. And these traits are reflected in their shopping behaviors:

• They eagerly look for new products;
• They happily pay price premiums;
• They shop the bakery, deli, cheese or dairy categories frequently;
• They have above-average category knowledge;
• They are more open to marketing messages; and
• They can articulate and anticipate latent demand.

By zeroing in on these characteristics, departments can not only tailor their messaging and products to capture the attention of these important shoppers, but develop ways to turn potential superconsumers into actual superconsumers. Let’s take a look at a typical bakery superconsumer, one of the five fresh department shoppers examined in “The Superconsumer Opportunity in Dairy, Deli, and Bakery.”

Despite representing only 10% of households, bakery superconsumers drive 24% of total bakery spend. They also spend an average of $357 per year in the department, purchasing from six product subcategories. In a sense, bakery superconsumers are “hiring” the in-store bakery to elevate meals, as evidenced by the shopping patterns of one bakery superconsumer interviewed for the research. “John” enjoys cooking dinner for his family, but when running late, looks for something that can quickly be made: sandwiches. But not just any sandwich. John creates his dinnertime sandwich using a toasted croissant, which keeps his family happy and his values intact. It’s a win-win for John: He’s providing a meal with a homemade feel to it, while at the same time saving money by not purchasing a more expensive quick-serve restaurant meal.

What lesson can in-store bakeries learn from John? Quite simply, that the department can be a source of every daypart—even dinner in the form of sandwiches—which is exactly how superconsumers view it. And this idea can also resonate with potential superconsumers, with the proper messaging. In this example, the messaging would be that it’s OK to prepare and serve sandwiches as a meal option, if they’re made with special bread from the in-store bakery.  

Superconsumers like John are shopping our bakery, deli, dairy, cheese and prepared food departments. By examining their food preferences and shopping behaviors—which is what IDDBA has done through this latest research—stores can not only better engage with these customers, but also help create new superconsumers that drive department success.

Have you identified superconsumers that shop your stores? What are some ways to turn shoppers into superconsumers? Respond in the comments below.

Mike Eardley is the president and CEO of the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association.

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