B2B | Shopper Connection | April 2010
Bringing Fresh Ideas to Shelf Stable
Since 1988, traditional grocery stores have lost 53 percent of their market share to other classes of trade, "leaking" shoppers to warehouse clubs, dollar stores, supercenters and limited assortment stores.1Now more than ever, retailers must be tightly linked as strategic partners to find creative ways to maintain shopper loyalty.
"We work closely with our customers to understand the unique characteristics of their shopper—often blending our insights and analytics with theirs to identify ways to influence purchases across an entire category," said David Booth, senior vice president, Sales. "This has led to some out-of-the-box ideas with the potential to become game changers for our retail partners."
One such example is ConAgra Foods’ Ultra Convenient Meals Aisle, currently in test market with a major national retailer. The aisle concept grew from consumer research documenting trends toward the use of microwaveable meals and the need to make shopping more efficient for moms (who do the majority of the shopping) to give them more time to spend with family or complete important tasks. Retailer, IRI data and shopper research were blended using ConAgra Foods’ proprietary analytical tools to identify cross-purchase affinity among convenient meal items and show the growth potential when like products are co-located in the store.
The result is an assortment of shelf-stable microwaveable meals that can be prepared in five minutes or less; for example, soups, chili, macaroni and cheese, packaged meals such as ConAgra’s new Healthy Choice® Fresh Mixers and related items from other suppliers. The Ultra Convenient Meals Aisle makes it easy for shoppers to find easy-to-prepare meal options in one place instead of searching for them in various categories throughout the center store. The proposed location for the 16-foot aisle is at the front and center of the store next to Soup.
Test market results are currently being tallied, but virtual store testing showed that establishing an Ultra Convenient Meals set next to Soup increased category sales by 5-10 percent. Shopper panel data rated the aisle as Easy to Shop, Well Organized, and Well Showcased.2
"It’s a fairly intuitive concept—the quicker shoppers find what they are looking for, the more they buy." Booth added. "With the average shopper only spending about 23 minutes in a store, it’s important to make their time as productive as possible to keep them coming back for more."
1 Supermarket News 7/2/07
2 Decision Insights 2009
Hunt's Brings Innovation to the Ketchup Category
Shoppers rank all natural, low sodium and no high fructose corn syrup as the top three labeling claims that positively influence their ketchup purchase decision. Introducing Hunt’s All Natural Ketchup, a new recipe with no HFCS or artificial ingredients.
Family Fun Spices Up October
Having an in-depth understanding of moms’ needs for hearty meal solutions and creative family gatherings during the October time frame has helped ConAgra Foods and retailers broaden the scope of the season to encompass more than just football or Halloween. Working with one major retailer, ConAgra Foods set out to focus on October as a season of transformation, driving significant results.
Fall is the Familiar Routine Time
During the fall month shoppers tend to stock up on easy-to-plan, hearty family meal favorites. Moms are more creative, and networks with neighbors for easy solutions before the holiday "storm".
U.S. consumers spend about 7 seconds per product when choosing what to buy in a supermarket. Consider that:
• Messages about how to juggle work, home, family, personal time dominate the media.
• Consumers increasingly live “jigsaw lives”, with one person having multiple roles.
• Formal meal occasions continue to drop, as grab-and-go activity increases.
• Input overload and the ever-growing proliferation of choice results in a confused, exhausted consumer.
Mintel International Group Limited. Shelf-stable Meals and Meal Kits - US - October 2008
Grills, back-to-school supplies, Halloween costumes and Christmas decorations were all once reliable profit generators for supermarkets. But it's no secret that the advent of supercenters, dollar stores and discount formats has put the squeeze on the seasonal merchandise category.
Fourth-quarter holidays and events used to be simpler and a lot less expensive. In times past, back-to-school was about anticipation and less about buying the latest fashion trend. Halloween was about kids' fun activities — making a costume, carving a pumpkin, innocent trick-or-treats — and less about turning your front yard into a Universal Studios horror lot to keep up with the Jones' spectacle down the block.
Kowalski's Markets' Boo Bash, a Halloween event for children, attracts bigger crowds each year, officials said. All nine Kowalski's units participated on the same evening this Halloween, and kids — with parents in tow — numbered anywhere from hundreds to 1,000 per store.
Food retailers are testing planograms that group shelf-stable convenient meals together, rather than with their category parent.
High-traffic departments like meat and produce are prime real estate for meal solutions. Progressive retailers are capitalizing on this notion by cross-merchandising everything from proteins and vegetables to shelf-stable sides, spices and even serving platters.
Retailers have been responding to new consumer emphasis on convenience and value in prepared foods by offering grab-and-go versions of their most popular dishes and sides. Doing so is no easy feat, as retailers who offer these convenient solutions for customers must also ensure that these meals and dishes can be merchandised appealingly, and maintain their quality and integrity in a grab-and-go cooler.
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