KROGER UNIT TO RESET MERCHANDISING FOR MEAT SHOW

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A Kroger store in the chain's division here will host a merchandising showcase, tied to next month's Annual Meat Marketing Conference, that resets the meat department to market to specific consumer lifestyles, according to conference organizers.The meat department, the Cincinnati-based chain's most profitable in Nashville's Kroger Marketing Area, will be stocked with many new fresh-meat

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A Kroger store in the chain's division here will host a merchandising showcase, tied to next month's Annual Meat Marketing Conference, that resets the meat department to market to specific consumer lifestyles, according to conference organizers.

The meat department, the Cincinnati-based chain's most profitable in Nashville's Kroger Marketing Area, will be stocked with many new fresh-meat products and its merchandising plan reconfigured to target four consumer lifestyle trends identified by the conference's 1997 meat project committee.

The conference will take place here April 12 to 15, 1997, at the Opryland Hotel, offering seminars on meat-related issues in addition to supermarket tours in the Nashville area.

The Kroger store will turn its meat section over to project officials for an overnight reset, and then the 80,000-square-foot unit will be included in conference store tours Sunday, April 13, according to Norma Gilliam, who chairs this year's meat project committee and is a member of the conference planning committee. Gilliam is director of public relations for Hubert Co., Harrison, Ohio.

The meat-marketing conference has organized merchandising showcases in the past, but this event will be its most extensive so far, and will contain a significant educational component for retailers, to offer guidance in setting their own meat departments to better reflect consumer lifestyles, Gilliam told SN.

The merchandising sections, targeting four lifestyles chosen from about a dozen identified by the committee, are the Ten-Minute Meal, Healthy/Light Cooking, Kids Like This Stuff and I Like to Cook. Products, either already in the market or making their debut in the showcase, will be grouped together under these headings along a coffin wall case, Gilliam said.

Signage above the sections will correspond to specially made labels on the packages, "So that a dad looking to feed his kids, for example, would easily spot the products intended as kids' meals," she explained. "Or someone after a quick solution would gravitate toward the Ten-Minute Meal items."

Gilliam said about one-quarter of the products in the showcase will be entirely new. Participants on the supply side number at about 20, she said. "We will see some leading-edge fresh cuts, and will see some new products under the Kroger label such as coarse ground lamb and chili meat, and individually quick frozen products."

Case-ready products will occupy a substantial amount of the space, as will products aimed at the home-meal replacement market, she said.

Representatives will be on hand to discuss the products and the layout. A take-home booklet at the showcase will explain the targeted lifestyles in detail, offer a model planogram and list the vendors and their products.

The store will also host another element of the project, a rolling meat-product demonstration station that retailers could use for carving and sampling on the floor. Gilliam said six demonstrations will be under way simultaneously in the Kroger department.

"I see a greater need for retailers to get into lifestyle marketing in the meat department," said Gilliam. "They have to continue to study this, and promote it to the consumer. And I have never seen this developed to this degree."

The educational component of the event will be reinforced at a conference seminar Sunday afternoon. Seminar participants will put the current showcase into context with five previous conference merchandising projects, Gilliam said.

"We will take a look back and ask retailers what they have gotten out of this," she said.