This year’s Show & Sell Center at IDDBA’s Dairy-Deli-Bake in Atlanta earlier this month played on the show’s theme of “Growing the Future” with a focus on Millennials while also emphasizing cross-merchandising for the first time.
“They’re the ones who are bringing the money into the grocery store,” Sue Bosse, a retired cheese merchandiser who is a long-time member of the cheese team, said of Millennials. She said the goal is to trigger Millennials to buy more.
To attract Millennials looking for information about their food and flexible meal solutions, the meals teams created a concept called Culinary Concierge. The concept was also designed to help retailers develop a relationship with customers.
“Bring the consumer back in, bring the consumer back in, bring the consumer back in. And you know that’s become a problem,” said freelance food stylist Chris Koch, a member of the meals team.
In stores, retail chefs could use a designated area for cooking classes, sampling and meal production. Customers would be able to ask chefs questions, such as how to prepare certain items.
Koch said retailers sometimes think they need to hire a three-star chef for such roles, but a recent culinary school graduate would be just as effective.
The other component of the Culinary Concierge would be a personalized meal service. Customers could place an order for one meal or a full week of meals that would be packaged in the store and placed in a bag with the customer’s name and pick-up date in a refrigerated case.
Whole Foods has been using a similar concept in stores in Chicago, according to Koch.
Retailers could upsell customers picking up their meal orders by stocking an adjoining case with deli trays, cheese boards and desserts.
Koch said Show & Sell team members tried to show how to fill every available space by merchandising around cases and displays.
“We did a lot more cross-merchandising this year than we’ve ever done,” agreed deli team member Ron Fischer, who works at Coborn’s.
There was “bread and cheese everywhere” to encourage impulse buys, Fischer said. “It’s for extra sales.”
In addition, each Show & Sell team had to invite other teams to participate in one of its displays, according to bakery team member Jennifer Dahm, director of coffee and bakery merchandising at Dorothy Lane Market.
The object was to show how cross-merchandising would work in a real store.
“I think that’s a challenge that a lot of companies have,” said Dahm.
For its collaborative effort, the bakery team put together a breakfast case that featured a juicing station and included cold brew coffee, drinkable yogurt and yogurt parfaits. The cake team created a tongue-in-cheek display on one side based on a study that found when people eat chocolate cake for breakfast they don’t eat as much during the day.
Aside from the chocolate cake, much of the breakfast display represented on-the-go items with a healthy feel.
“Everybody wants good food but they want it fast,” said Dahm.
Millennial shoppers in particular are looking for products that are healthy or “at least give the illusion,” according to Koch.
The meals team originally planned to do a “meat-free zone” for one of its cases but instead focused on alternative proteins like hummus, cheese, quinoa and Field Roast grain-based deli slices.
“They don’t want to do without their meat but they don’t want to feel guilty either,” said Koch. He said many consumers still eat meat but choose meat-free meals sometimes.
With a nod to cross-merchandising and healthy eating, the cheese team created displays for cheese and produce pairings with signs like “Cherries go great with…” Customers might pair figs with a Stilton or peaches with a gouda.
“If you like the fruit and you like the cheese, you know what? It’s a natural,” said Bosse.
The display even showcased some vegetables. For a different take, Bosse said a cheese spread would work well with sliced eggplant or rolled up in a leaf of red cabbage.
In another case, a sign suggested trying traditionally Hispanic cheeses based on a customer’s preferences for other common cheeses. For example, if a customer likes parmesan he or she might try cotija, or substitute crema for sour cream.
While ethnic flavors have become more mainstream, many consumers may not buy cheeses that aren’t familiar to them, said Bosse. “Some people are afraid to try these cheeses.”
The bakery team’s dessert case also played on alternative cheeses and ethnic flavors. Two cheesecakes were prepared with Greek yogurt and ricotta, while other sweet treats included tres leches and quinoa pudding.
Many consumers want more exotic flavors, said Dahm. A made-to-order flatbread pizza display went beyond traditional toppings with combinations like gorgonzola, prosciutto and fig, and curried sauerkraut with Greek yogurt and chicken.
The display encouraged customers to choose their own toppings, too.
The deli team also took on customizable pizzas with a case for crust, sauce and ingredients to be assembled at home.
“You could throw whatever you want on it,” said Fischer.
Across all the different areas, Show & Sell team members had one overarching goal.
“The key is to show the attendees ideas … to take back to their stores,” said cake team member Rebecca Woodard, a decorator at Harp’s Food Stores.
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