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Catching the Consumer

When I shop the seafood department, it’s usually after much recipe research and circular-perusing. It appears I’m not alone. Needless to say, we consumers sometimes need help when it comes to buying and preparing seafood.

By thinking out of the box in providing information, cross-merchandising products and training store associates, retailers can capitalize on not only seafood sales, but also sales of products from other departments of the store...and customer loyalty.

According to Tom Demott, chief operating officer and managing partner of perishables sales, Encore Associates, seafood was hot this past year. Growth last year was largely attributed to lobster and crab sales, with lobster tonnage sold at retail growing a whopping 85% this past year.

"Sales have increased about 10% and there's still an opportunity to sell more," Demott said. "If you look at every dollar of seafood purchased, there’s at least another dollar of other product purchased, so there's an opportunity to nearly double sales."

Three retailers, Dave's Marketplace, Dierbergs Markets and Kings Supermarkets, contributed to the seminar, "The Drawing Power of Seafood at Retail," and all agreed that lack of knowledge and the fear factor associated with seafood preparation continues to hinder sales. To remedy this, Dierbergs and Kings both offer recipe ideas, fishery stories and information about new species being offered directly on the seafood counter, and in its ads, store magazines and websites.

Nancy Wangles, director of deli and seafood for Dierbergs Markets, made an interesting point that personal attention and service not only creates relationships with customers, but also increases associates’ job satisfaction.

“The drawing power of seafood really depends on how much you can portray and share with your customers,” said Wangles. “We try to have a great presentation as you walk up to the case and a good selection and variety of items. It’s about the experience, not only visually, but as [customers] communicate with our associates.”